Forestry Research Institute of Ghana of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-FORIG) has indicated that over four million hectares of degraded forest reserves are available for the plantation of trees to restore the country’s forest cover.
It has, therefore, urged stakeholders in the farming communities in the cocoa forest landscape among the lots, to take advantage of the situation to enter into commercial business to restore degraded lands.
According to the Institute, “there is a massive work to be done, the fact that Ghana has signed onto African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR100) and committed to restore two million hectares of degraded forests by 2030”.
The AFR100 is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa into restoration.
It is aimed at improving environmental quality and provide an opportunity for the country to tap the emerging benefits from the climate change market for carbon sequestration, and enhance production of food crops to contribute to the food security in the country.
Speaking at the opening of this year’s review meeting of the Institute, here, its director, Prof. Daniel A. Ofori, indicated that the country’s 8.2 million hectares of land from 1900, had been degraded, with only 1.6 million hectares currently available, stressing that the “deforestation rate was 2 per cent, which is higher for the country”.
He noted that in the year 2000, Ghana’s forest cover was a net carbon sink (absorbing carbon), “but currently the nation’s forest cover is a net carbon emitter, which calls for an intensification of growing interest to restore the degraded forest”.
Prof. Ofori expressed grave concern about the increased deforestation and fragmentation of forest resources and increased exploitation of natural forests and plantations outside forests to meet increasing demands for forest products.
He emphasised the need for environmental education to begin from basic levels to tertiary toward rehabilitation of degraded forest landscapes in the country.
“We need to conserve biodiversity, restore ecological integrity, while improving human well-being through multi-functional landscapes.
“If forests disappear, we lose any prospect of sustainable development,” he said, and mentioned the importance for urgent action to plant enough trees to restore the forests and to combat climate change and its impacts.
Mr Alex Asare, Director of the Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) of the Forestry Commission, added his voice to the rate of deforestation of the nation’s forest cover saying, “The rate of deforestation is higher than interventions.”
He called on the CSIR-FORIG to set up a national technical team to solely oversee the restoration of the forests.
Mr Asare hinted that the centre had planted about 30,000 trees in the Western Region as part of efforts to restore the degraded lands under the AFR100 initiative.