Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ghana not seeing the forest for the trees

Ghana’s forest ministry said the country is rapidly losing its forest cover.

Today, forests make up 2.47 million acres of the country, which is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oregon. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Ghana’s forest took up nearly 20 million acres. By the time the country gained independence in 1957, that amount had dwindled to just half that. Since then, the Forest Ministry estimated the forests are being depleted about 160,000 acres per year.

According to Public Agenda in Accra:

Deputy Minister of Lands and Forestry, Clement Eledi once attributed the problem to the failure of Ghana's Forestry and Wildlife policies and strategies to ensure that forest and wildlife resources were managed on economically viable, socially beneficial and environmentally sound principles.

Mining alone is said to deplete two million acres of forested land each year.

Currently very little closed forest is said to remain outside the forest reserve network with much of it in small-scattered patches in swamps and sacred groves. Environmentalists say that granting the miners permits to enable them operate in the reserves will result in the decimation of the remaining forest tucked away in the reserve.

Other reasons for the fast pace of the deforestation in the country according to the commission are " a phenomenal increase in population leading to pressure on forests and forested lands, expansion of agriculture, wild fires and uncontrolled logging as well as the production of wood fuel". The FAO country report on Ghana confirms that two thirds of the population and most of Ghana's economic activities are concentrated in its forested areas

Meanwhile it is said that forests play an important role in the nation's socio-economic development. Timber exports alone is said to have fetched the country an estimated $214 million in revenue.

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