The survival of mankind depends largely on the protection or preservation of the environment. According to experts, trees, for instance, produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health. Trees, again, sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Apart from cleansing the air, trees also provide shelter for river bodies and prevent them from drying up. From the above simple narration, it is clear that without trees, the survival of the human race would be problematic. Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, realised this and, therefore, decided to demarcate large portions of our forest resources as reserves to protect our environment. It was also meant to provide sanctuary for the wild life.
But, regrettably, due to sheer ignorance or wickedness, our forest reserves, said to be around eight million hectares at the time of our independence, has now whittled down to 1.6 million hectares due to massive encroachment and illegal logging of timber products.
At the moment, the depletion rate is said to be around 3%, with 65,000 hectares of forest being destroyed every year.
The Chronicle is, therefore, not surprised that the most parts of the country are suffering from water scarcity, especially the rural areas. Almost all the rivers and creeks are gone because the trees that provide vegetation cover for these water bodies have been destroyed.
The rainfall pattern has also changed, because all the trees have been felled. But for the policy initiated by Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey (Tarzan) to encourage the use of gas for cooking, the last tree in the country would have been felled by now.
Though The Chronicle agrees that there are people who fell trees out of ignorance, majority of the people know the implications or benefits mankind derive from trees, yet, for their own parochial interests, they deplete our forests with careless abandon. These nation-wreckers go into the forest reserves, mostly at the mid-night, to fell the trees and transport them to the urban centres for economic gain.
The Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso is causing havoc in Ghana any time it is spilled, because all the trees that would have held the soil together are gone. Clearly, if we are to survive as a nation, then drastic measures ought to be taken to halt the rapid deforestation.
It is in the line with this, that The Chronicle welcomes moves being made by the Forest Commission, headed by Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, to hold in check illegal logging going on in our forest reserves.
The Forestry Commission, according to a story we have carried at page 7 of our today’s edition, is undertaking a joint operation with the military in the Western Region to clamp down on illegal forest activities.
Briefing the media on the operation, Mr John Allotey, Deputy Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, said the forest and wildlife resources in the region were under serious threat through human activities, especially illegal farming, mining, logging, chain sawing and commercial collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), as well as poaching.
He said these activities in the forest reserves in the region were causing serious havoc to the environment and forest resources, stressing that during a rapid field assessment of the extent of degradation, it was discovered that 24,398.96 hectares of intact forest had been lost to forest illegalities.
Though Mr Allotey did not state the period the 24,398.96 hectares of forest in the Western Region alone was lost, it tells the story about the danger that lies ahead of us all if the trend continues.
The Chronicle is, therefore, appealing to the FC to intensify the current exercise and replicate it in all the forest regions of the country to ensure the future sustenance of our dear nation, Ghana. Already, millions of dollars are spent importing furniture into this country, which is a drain on our dollar reserves. Do we want, as a country, to continue on this trajectory? If the answer in no, then something must be done before we start crying over spilt milk in future.