Accra, Oct. 21, GNA - Professor Japheth Christian Norman of the Department of Crop Science, University of Ghana (UG), Legon, Thursday said 80 per cent of Ghana's high forest has been cut down.
According to him the country also loses about 65,000 hectares or about one to three per cent of its forest cover through deforestation annually with the Greater Accra Region alone losing 400 hectares of its farm land annually as a result of sand winning.
Prof. Norman was delivering this year's Academy of Arts and Sciences lecture in the sciences.
The lecture, the 12th in the series, was jointly organised by the Academy and the Ghana Institute of Horticulturist under the theme, The Landscape Industry in sustainable environmental management. Prof. Norman noted that even though the landscape industry had a significant role to play in sustainable environmental management, it had been grossly ignored in the country's development planning. He said the Department of Parks and Gardens charged with the duties of landscaping was woefully under-resourced in terms of funding, professional personnel, technical know-how and logistics and was becoming extinct as a result of neglect.
The department has had a very checked history in terms of ministerial placement, he observed, saying, that accounted for the negligence of its role.
Prof. Norman stated that the country had suffers from poor landscaping giving rise to grave environmental degradation due to urbanisation, deforestation, soil erosion, air, water and visual pollution and poor waste management.
He said available statistics showed environmental decay in both urban and rural areas, saying that it had become imperative to revamp the role of the landscape industry to arrest environmental degradation. "It is therefore paramount that the ideal institutional and professional framework be created to ensure effective functioning of the landscape industry," he said.
He called on the government to increase budgetary allocation for landscaping and horticulture and suggested that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies as well as private institutions contribute towards proper landscaping.
Prof. Norman called for human resource development, intensive public awareness and the need for graduate horticulturist and landscape designers to be employed in the Department to improve landscape practice.
He said that there was the need for proper collaboration and co-ordination between landscape professional and ministries to ensure effective landscape in development programmes.
Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah, who presided, said government must lead the way in restoring proper landscape practice in the country. According to an official of the Department of Parks and Gardens, the department was losing its role to private florist and horticulturist as government institutions continued to award landscaping contracts to private contractors.
He confirmed Professor Norman's assertion that the Department was not properly resourced and said that if the public did not go to the aid of the Department it would become extinct in a few years to come.