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16.05.2007 General News

Forest Protection

It is not by sheer coincidence that when global warming has become the topic for discussion around the world, Ghana's forest reserves are diminishing at so fast a rate.

Industrial activities in the advanced countries are harming the environment through the flaring of carbon dioxide, which depletes the ozone layer.

Developing countries cannot gloss over their role in ensuring that trees are allowed to do what they are expected to do to enhance mankind's life on earth.

Undoubtedly, the importance of the forests in the scheme of things is known to our leaders and decision makers. The environmental, medicinal and economic importance of forests is enormous and the construction industry could be cited for its extensive use of forests.

Consequently, the agencies charged with the maintenance of our forest reserves should have adequate capacity to shoulder the responsibilities they have to discharge.

The logistical concerns of the Forestry Commission should be urgently addressed and the commission must have a strategic management plan for the reserves. Such plans should include when forest enrichment programmes should begin.

Evidently, the tree plantation project launched by the government started effectively and it is anticipated that the commitment which initially marked the project has not waned.

It would be a sad story if we deplete our God-given forests in such a way that we would be compelled to import the very tree species that we have exported to the industrialised countries.

Community involvement in the tree plantation project should be sustained and if there are problems, they should be resolved. Indeed, if community members know that they all stand to benefit from the scheme, their enthusiasm will be high in sustaining it.

It is said that the activities of chainsaw operators are doing incalculable harm to the forest reserves and it is about time that the activities of the operators were brought under control.

It may be asked, what do the operators do to enhance the forest from which they extract timber and logs? The question becomes even more important considering how long it takes for a tree to mature.

We wish to submit that until strenuous efforts are made to educate the ordinary citizen to appreciate the invaluable contributions made by our forests to the very survival of man, our struggle to check the diminishing of our forests will remain a mirage.

Time was when the campaign was characterised by the popular slogan: “When the last tree dies, the last man dies”, indicating that the life of humankind and that of trees are inextricably linked.

Perhaps the campaign was superficial and that it never went down with our people deep enough to enable them to see the immense benefit we will derive from preserving our forests.

We must protect our forests.