We destroy wetlands at our peril

Just last week, the Ramsar sites located within the Tema Metropolitan, Tema West Municipal, Ablekuma West Municipal and the Weija-Gbawe Municipal assemblies were declared security zones by the Greater Accra Regional Security Council (REGSEC).


This follows severe encroachment on the sites by developers, which portends disaster for the country. The development suggests that either people are oblivious of the importance of the sites or they do not really care about them.

But be that as it may, the destruction of Ramsar sites or wetlands spells doom for people living in its radius and has a telling effect on the ecology of the area and by extension the entire country.

The Sakumo Lagoon and Densu Delta are wetlands of international significance under the Ramsar Convention, which means their existence does not only benefit Ghana, but also the international community.

A Ramsar site provides for national action and international cooperation regarding the conservation of wetlands and the wise sustainable use of their resources (such as the production of salt from the Songor Lagoon and Densu Delta).

Apart from properly draining Tema and its environs and providing economic benefits to the locals, the Sakumo also serves as a stop for migratory birds from all across the world.

The Sakumo Ramsar Site is a wetland wholly owned by the government and it is meant for protecting Sakumono, Tema and their environs against floods and pollution, for the breeding of fish for the Sakumo Lagoon, as well as recreational activities.

The site is also the relaxation and feeding ground for over 70 water bird species. Besides that, it serves as breeding grounds for about three marine turtle species — the Olive Ridley, Green and Leatherback turtles.

All these benefits and more which are not known to the unlettered may be the reason we love to fill up any wetland we see, and which we describe as marshland fit for construction. 
Flooding has especially become rampant with the slightest rainfall because of the wanton destruction of our wetlands which have been designed to take up excess water or run-off.

It is time we took our destiny into our own hands to protect what is left of our wetlands and Ramsar sites, which is why the Daily Graphic lauds the declaration of the aforementioned sites as security zones.

While we urge that other sites across the country are also declared security zones to ward off any encroachers, we ask for stiffer punishment for those who still encroach or put up structures on wetlands, after the already existing ones have been demolished.

This is one thing we should not politicise, else one day we will all wake up and find ourselves under an avalanche of mud caused by landslides as a result of flooding, or find all the properties we have laboured to acquire floating on floodwaters.

We find it disturbing that during a recent tour of some Ramsar sites by the Greater Accra Regional Minister designate, Daniel Titus-Glover, it was found that the encroachers were influential persons with political clout who had been adamant despite the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, TDC Ghana Limited and the REGSEC ordering developers to halt construction on the Ramsar site and to produce permits or face sanctions.

Indeed, as the minister designate said, “We need to protect what is left of the Ramsar site.” Currently, the buffer and transition zones of the Sakumo site have all been encroached on, and out of the over 1,200 acres of the core lands, more than half of them have been encroached upon, while the remaining have been filled with sand, awaiting further development.

 The Densu Delta has also suffered the same fate. We definitely can no longer treat this as business as usual, else we will suffer the dire consequences of our actions and inaction.

The Daily Graphic calls on all state actors to take the necessary action and ensure that our wetlands and Ramsar sites are well protected from encroachment and abuse, even if we must involve the security agencies. 

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