Ghana's forests are in deep crises among a global ranking of countries with high incidence of forest losses recorded between 2017 and 2018.
Ghana comes first out of 10 top countries with highest percentage in primary forest loss between 2017 and 2018 of any tropical country, according to a report by the Global Forest Watch (GFW).
While it's Cocoa Producing counterpart, Côte d'Ivoire recorded 26 per cent on forest loss, Ghana is reported to have chalked an alarming 60 per cent increase.
According to the report, Illegal mining caused a large amount of the losses, and while it is difficult to attribute the exact location and amount of forest loss, expansion of cocoa farms in forest areas are said to have also contributed to this devastating development.
“Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and leading cocoa and chocolate companies pledged in 2017 to end deforestation within cocoa supply chains. While this is a promising first step, the recent rise in primary forest loss—especially in protected areas, where 70 percent of the loss occurred—is a worrying sign,” the report said.
Given the urgency to prevent further lose as well as an impending runaway climate change and irreversible biodiversity loss, Ghana as a country needs to bridle in deforestation before it's too late.
It probably may be too late for countries like Mozambique, Indonesia amongst others but Ghana can quickly take a cue from the misfortunes of others to salvage itself from an evil that could be avoided.
Mozambique has been the hardest hit recently. Reports have it that Cyclone Idai's recent devastation on the country was amplified by deforestation in the region.
According to reports by allafrica.com, Mozambique has seen between 10 and 15 per cent of its forests disappear due to illegal logging and charcoal production in the past 25 years.
Inspite of these, A Rocha Ghana is calling on the powers that be to treat this report, no matter its shortcomings and gaps with all the urgency it requires.
- We call on government to produce an action plan to stop the destruction of all forests areas in Ghana. As a country, we must see this as an opportunity to create measures that could build on and strengthen government and corporate commitments to stop deforestation. There is a need for measures that support clear legal frameworks; strengthen land tenure and contribute to greening commodity value chains that drive deforestation and forest degradation.
- Government must also give whole legal protection status to forest reserves. We want to see strengthened implementation of existing sustainable forest management policies and compliance and enforcement regimes that play an important role in fighting illegal logging and mining as well as preventing the unsustainable exploitation of timber species leading to deforestation and degradation of Ghana's remaining forest and protected area estates.
- Government must reaffirm its commitment to the fight against illegal mining following reports of its resurgence. While doing so, it must desist from activities that seem to put into jeopardy major forest blocks in the country like the Atewa Forest.
The Atewa Forest, located in the Eastern Region and among the 260 forest reserves in the country, is one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical forests and one of the healthiest and important ecosystems in West Africa. We reiterate our clarion call for government to preserve the sanctity of that landscape.
We say NO to mining in the Atewa forest reserve and urge the government to immediately designate the Atewa Forest as a National Park, paving the way for several sustainable green investments that will safeguard livelihood, water and the ecological integrity and climate amelioration services within the area.
Government's action to save Atewa from bauxite mining, will be monumental as it will be contributing directly to the Sustainable Development Goals for which Atewa Range Forest is uniquely placed for SDGs 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, and 15.