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Green Damongo Project must be replicated in other constituencies

Irrespective of what value society places on climate change and its supposed consequences, the dawn of a new phase of nature appears to be upon humanity.

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From significant changes in the rainfall pattern to alteration in weather conditions, including prolonged and unusual warm temperatures, the world has had to contend with the new normal lately.

Here in Ghana, unusual volumes of rainfall during off-rainfall seasons or prolonged drought are the extreme realities of the times. While the impact looks more pronounced in the more developed economies, the regularity of flooding in Ghana, for instance, is enough proof of how much the environment is experiencing climate change.

The theories underpinning climate change are not far-fetched. The burning of fossil fuels and cutting down trees are two of the quickest ways to encounter the phenomenon.

From unbridled illegal mining — commonly called galamsey in Ghana — to illegal logging, charcoal burning and bushfires, Ghanaians have dragged themselves to the shores of climate change very quickly.

This is why the initiative by the Member of Parliament for Damongo, Samuel A. Jinapor, to promote the planting of 32,000 tree seedlings in his constituency alone is commendable.

Under the project, trees will be planted along the major roads and selected spaces within the town. The three-phase Green Damongo Project will involve the planting of 2,670 trees in Damongo, with 15,930 others to be planted in other areas extending to neighbouring community, Larabanga.

Damongo, the capital of the Savannah Region, is within the Savannah ecological zone where the advancing Sahara desert is real. Within that space, illegal logging of Rosewood in particular and the cutting of Shea and other tree species for firewood and charcoal have contributed to the depletion of the thin vegetation cover.

Indeed, the northern areas are the unofficial headquarters of charcoal production in the country, with truckloads of charcoal heading to the southern part of the country every week.

Some organisations with interest in the environment say there is no forest in northern Ghana. This is in spite of practical efforts to create forests in Wa in the Upper West Region, for instance, to improve general climatic conditions in the area.

For vast areas of the north, the single rainy season spans April to June. But recent experience of extended periods of rainfall in torrents beyond those three months, sometimes with devastating consequences, have confirmed the changing pattern of the weather.

Mr Jinapor's venture may target employing the youth and giving them decent livelihoods, but that may actually be a by-product of the greater good of improving the environment and sustaining life.

As the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, he has championed the Green Ghana project that is supposed to have planted over 50 million trees since 2021. Embarking on the tree-planting project in his own backyard is to give expression to the belief that “charity begins at home”, given that the survival of life on earth cannot be divorced from the health of the environment.

The invention of vehicles and manufacturing plants have come with its own consequences. Fossil fuels power vehicles and industrial machines, but their usage has come at a price to the environment, as the fumes discharged from such fuels impact the environment.

Trees absorb the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by the industrial systems and the burning of fossil fuels. When the environment is depleted of trees, life falls in danger.

This is why we would recommend that other duty bearers, including the remaining 274 parliamentarians, show leadership in the effort to restore the country’s vegetation cover with deliberate and sustainable initiatives that will complement the annual tree planting exercise.

While acknowledging the efforts of some corporate institutions for supporting the tree planting exercise, it cannot be overemphasised that planting new trees is not the only way to take care of the environment.

Galamsey, illegal logging and charcoal burning should be checked by the relevant authorities in order not to undermine the very issues tree planting seeks to address.

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