Do we care about the environment?

By Awula Serwah
Do we care about the environment?
LISTEN FEB 22, 2021

A clean, healthy, peaceful and green environment is vital to our health and well-being, yet we pay scant attention to Environmental Destruction and Pollution.

Eco-Conscious Citizens note that trees from the building site of the National Cathedral have been excavated and taken to Parks and Gardens, Cantonments. Ironically, they have been taken to the site where in 2019 over 140 trees were felled without permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make room for a multi-storey office building.

Without the campaign to save Parks and Gardens at Cantonments, where would the trees from the National Cathedral grounds have been taken to, and would anyone have thought of preserving the trees on the site?

We cannot over-emphasise the importance of trees and open spaces to our health and well-being. Even before the pandemic, some doctors had noted the health benefits of green spaces and were involved in social prescribing, in addition and sometimes in lieu, of medication.

Parks and green spaces are fundamental to physical and mental health, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and local economic growth.

Covid-19 has taught us the need for green spaces for clean air, space to reflect and recharge our batteries, and the limitations of air-conditioned spaces, particularly high rise buildings that don't have windows that can be opened for fresh air.

What steps are being taken to protect our open spaces? In well-planned cities there are numerous parks and open spaces providing opportunities for leisure, relaxation and exercise. London is made of about 40% public green space, including 3,000 parks totalling about 35,000 acres. For those who love to ape the West, this is a blueprint worth copying. Why not have more public green spaces in our cities, instead of appropriating the few remaining ones to build offices and apartment blocks? We should have a minimum ratio of green space per person in all towns and cities.

Municipal Assemblies should be proactive and ensure that building permits come with planting a minimum number of trees in courtyards and frontage. They should encourage tree-lined streets and avenues, creating a pleasant environment where noise is absorbed and temperatures are lowered. The practice of some estate developers paving everywhere is unsustainable and unpleasant. It should be mandatory for developers who acquire huge tracts of land for estates to save a certain number of plots for parks and to plant trees on other parts of the estate.

The phenomenon of building in green spaces is fuelled by diminishing places to build. If the capital is choked, we need to seriously consider moving it somewhere else, perhaps somewhere central like Kintampo and building an enviable green city, having learnt from the challenges of Accra. Entrepreneurs and the business-minded should be pleased at the opportunities the idea provides. It will bring about employment as well as genuine opportunities to make money for those who live to make money.

The campaign to save Parks and Gardens continues. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Local Government has been granted permission to build on Parks and Gardens Land, although this was rejected at a Planning Meeting in 2019. There is also an application to re-zone the area from Green Civic to exclusively Civic.

Another environmental concern is the devastation from illegal mining. There have been discussions on whether banning excavators in forest reserves will stop the ongoing mayhem in forest reserves and help save our lands and waters from destruction and poisoning. The dangerous chemicals used during illegal mining will enter the food chain. We need to examine the root cause of the wanton destruction of our environment and poisoning of our waters. It is astonishing that there isn't more of an outcry.

Excessive noise is also an ongoing environmental issue that is not taken seriously enough. There is noise in residential or mixed residential areas from drinking spots, night clubs, refuse collectors, social events, noisy churches and the dawn Muslim call to worship. It is the prerogative of Churches to shout as loudly as they please, if they believe that by their noise and not by their fruit you shall know them. But they cannot infringe upon the human rights of residents to peace and quiet. They must ensure that their premises are sound proof, so they do not cause a nuisance. It is disappointing that we forget that the good book says in Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” We should reflect on whether or not we act justly. Nowhere does it say that screaming your head off and making excessive noise with the help of loudspeakers brings you closer to God. He is not deaf.

The EPA and Municipal Assemblies should enforce the relevant laws, so that we can enjoy our human right to peace and quiet. We should also have noise patrols working outside working hours as noise makers do not restrict noise making to 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Noise Patrols will help ensure that residents enjoy peace and quiet in the comfort of their homes must be available in all towns and cities.

The Pandemic offers the opportunity to press the reset button and do things in an environmentally friendly manner. A clean, green and peaceful environment has a positive impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.

Let's join the Campaign for a clean, healthy, peaceful and green environment.

For more information on how you can act with others contact [email protected]