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Parks and Gardens needs support to deliver

BY: Daily Graphic

Flowers and shrubs beautify places, while trees provide the much-needed shade, absorb the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and give oxygen in return.

They also help check erosion, serve as windbreaks, attract birds and provide a lot more environmental good It is not for nothing that the sages say when the last tree dies, the last man dies. This is because human beings depend a lot on trees for their existence on earth, and without trees, there can be no life.

Forest reserves and parks have been created in many jurisdictions to protect the trees and also enable people to reap the full benefits that trees and shrubs provide.

Although the country has a vibrant forestry department that oversees what is left of our reserves and forests, the same cannot be said of the department that was specifically created to ensure our environment was beautified at all times and humans interacted closely with nature through parks.

Since the Department of Parks and Gardens was established in 1961 by the enactment of the Local Government Act 54, given a ministerial status and known as the Ministry of Parks and Gardens and Tourism in 1965, its impact has dwindled over the years, as support has also reduced.

The woes of the department may have been occasioned by the uncertainty of Parks and Gardens needs support to deliver where to place it, after it was reverted to a department under the Department of Forestry in 1966.

It was put under different ministries from the year 1970 to 2000, namely Works and Housing, Local Government and Rural Development, and Environment and Science and is currently under the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural back into oblivion Development (MLGDRD). It is no wonder that the country currently lacks parks in its cities for amusement, recreation and to savour nature as is the case in other places. All the parks that existed in the past have either been encroached upon or given up for infrastructural development because, technically, at a point, no one was responsible for them.

The Daily Graphic is, however, excited that after all the decades of decay in the horticultural space, the department has since January this year made an attempt to spring to life with the beautification of road medians, shoulders and roundabouts along selected principal streets in the regional capitals.

While it is gratifying to note that the exercise has already seen the planting of over 25,000 seedlings of ornamental shrubs that produce various colours of flowers for beautification, we are urging the government and all well-meaning Ghanaians to support the department deliver on its mandate, else it may fall

If the Akan adage that "he who climbs well deserves a push" is anything to go by. then all hands must be on deck to help the Parks and Gardens Department bring some aesthetic touch to our environment that will also come with some health benefits.

We doff our hat to the MLGDRD for presenting some vehicles and equipment to the department to augment its existing fleet at the beginning of this year. Nonetheless, if the department is to make the impact that we envisage, they need more logistics, which should not only come from the government,

Tending trees, plants, shrubs, flowers and providing good landscaping in all our open spaces to ensure safety and beauty requires a lot of implements and equipment, and we must have more than enough to go round all the 16 regions of the country.

This is where we need individuals and organisations to help with funding and also employ the services of the well trained and professional staff of the department for all their horticultural needs.

All metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies across the country must also collaborate effectively with the department not only to make them vibrant but also effective, by identifying open spaces to green and creating event centres.

We urge the public to also appreciate the work of the department and not walk on lawns or destroy plants and flowers being grown outdoors by the staff.

Programmes such as the Greening Ghana Initiative and Operation Clean Your Frontage will certainly receive a boost if a well-resourced Department of Parks and Gardens is made to take centre stage.

Meanwhile, the Daily Graphic congratulates the acting Director of the department, Rev. Charles Ayitey Okine, and his staff on not throwing up their hands in despair, but taking the initiative to make the department relevant in the country's bid to become the cleanest and most beautiful in Africa.