Accra, Sept. 19, GNA - Ms. Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and Science (MES) on Monday expressed surprise about how the bitter experiences of past disasters have not in any way affected the attitude of most Ghanaians towards the environment.
She said, "If we had allowed the bitter lessons of the past to touch our lives, we would not have to spend time and money solving disasters the way we do, but rather allow the earth to take its natural course in dealing with its problems."
Ms. Churcher, who was speaking at the open of an international training workshop on "Evaluation of Methodologies for Mangrove Ecosystem Survey, Restoration and Pilot Site Selection Criteria," which opened in Accra, advocated a change in attitude by all towards the environment.
"We cannot continue to take the earth for granted," she said. The five-day workshop is being attended by about 45 participants drawn from the 16 countries belonging to the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) regions, which stretches from Guinea Bissau in the north to Angola in the South.
The workshop is expected to come out with national experts trained in the identification of mangrove plants and animals as well as for the publication of some proceedings of illustrations and scientific papers. Ms Churcher said life was not a dream of pain, but pain was the outcome of people's omission and commission towards the environment. Citing the washing away of the Keta coastal line and the need for the building of a sea defence wall, she said it was due to the absence of mangroves that would have prevented such occurrences.
The Ministry, she noted, would soon come out with a project coded " The Child and the Environment", where the focus would be educating the child on the need to help campaign for the protection of the environment.
Professor Chidi Ibe, Regional Director, GCLME said lesson from the Tsunami disaster of South East Asia should guide Africans in the planning and management of the coastline.
He said the aftermath studies revealed that areas that had mangrove were less devastated compared to areas without mangrove.
"By their nature, mangroves have been known to serve as buffer for violent storms and surges."
It is therefore advocated that the re-forestation of the GCLME coastal zone with mangroves was enforced. He said with the re-forestation of the mangroves, fish stocks could also be rejuvenated, since most fishes and crabs use the mangroves as their spawning grounds.
Dr Gheysika A. Agambila, Deputy Minister, MES, said the GCLME was richly endowed with abundant aquatic and other natural resources both renewable and non-renewable.
"But it is our responsibility to make judicious use of all of them in order not to loose the opportunity of less cost maintenance of our biological diversity.
"It is therefore incumbent on all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring that we properly embrace and align ourselves with the dynamic behaviour of the mangrove ecosystem so as to relate our policies and strategies to our survey reports and outcomes. Mr Edward Nsenkyire, Chief Director, MES also expressed disappointment at the management of mangroves along the Gulf of Guinea and called for a concerted effort by all in its management.