Ghanaian Politicians: Protect What Is Left Of Ghana's Natural Heritage

Fri, 21 Sep 2012 Source: Thompson, Kofi

By Kofi Thompson

It is instructive that Ghana's political parties and its educated urban elites seldom talk about the two most pressing problems that our nation must grapple with and resolve if it is to have a long-term future.

One is yet to hear, dear reader, any of the members of the so-called communications teams of political parties, outlining party policy designed to combat the impact on Ghana's agricultural sector of global climate change - and to halt the destruction of what is left of our nation's natural heritage.

Yet, across our nation, we are witnessing an unprecedented drop in crop yields resulting from global climate change, as well as the poisoning of soils and the water-table, on an almost apocalyptic scale.

And it is being done with impunity by selfish and lawless elements engaged in illegal activities, such as surface gold mining without official permits.

If not halted, those destructive activities will make it virtually impossible to put vast swathes of once-fertile land in the Ghanaian countryside to any productive use for decades to come - in what is still a nation with a largely agrarian rural economy.

Then there is also the unspeakable crime being committed against future generations, by those engaged in illegal logging - both illegal chainsaw operators and legally registered timber firms abusing their permits by over-harvesting.

Perhaps the new generation of politicians with a knowledge of economics like Dr. Bawumiah, can educate themselves on the subject, and make their parties aware of the incalculable value of the vital ecosystem services provided by the remainder of our nation's forests.

Hopefully, that will end in a solemn promise by their parties to Ghanaians, that if their parties' candidates for the December presidential election were to emerge victorious in the December presidential election, they will take swift action to protect the remainder of those all-important forests.

(Incidentally, a wag I know says that Dr. Bawumiah, whose party says he's the last word in economics, "appears to have neither the nous nor gumption, in a nation of high interest rates, crippling Ghana businesses, to recommend replacing expensive bank loans with local and foreign private equity financing, for Ghana's private sector to fund vital projects and expansion plans."

"Not too surprising" says the wag further - "as he is credited with our daft foray into the piranha-infested capital markets of Europe, which raised US$750 millions in a sovereign bond issue with impossible coupon rates that was then subsequently misapplied by the selfsame party whose presidential candidate he is now partnering." But I digress - so back to topic, dear reader.)

To ensure a good quality of life for our people today and tomorrow, what is left of our nation's natural heritage, particularly the unique Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest - an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) and choking with yet-to-be-discovered medicinal plants worth billions of dollars and potentially without compare in Ghana as a world-class eco-tourism destination - needs to be protected from the greedy and wealthy criminal syndicates, as well as the rich and well-connected crooks plundering them with the connivance of part of officialdom. A word to the wise...

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Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi