Two volunteers with seedlings for planting
Two volunteers with seedlings for planting

Tree planting in Madina, an initiative

When was the last time you visited Madina and its surrounding areas?

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Did you notice the budding trees planted by the main streets or within designated lanes around PRESEC-Legon; Trinity College to UPSA; Madina Zongo-Libya Quarters areas?

They were planted by the youth of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA-youth) with support from We-Care, a Non-Governmental Organisation in North Legon. I have a couple of questions, the first, is it true that the Mahogany specie of Khaya Anthotheca is the national tree of Ghana and this was stated officially in 1959?

Is it also true that the oldest tree in Ghana is the 300-year old Mpeni Kofi tree located at Akropong? And finally, is it true that the biggest tree found in Ghana is the Tieghemella Heckelii tree, near Akim Oda with a diameter of 396 cm (13ft) and a height of 66.5m (218 ft)?

Then it is possible that of the 150,000 trees planted by the OLA-youth and “We-Care”, some may grow to challenge the existing records in years or even centuries to come.

Crucial

I first met Madam Adwoa Broni as she was going round inspecting some trees around the Major Mahama Roundabout at East Airport and she said her organisation sees trees crucial to life, as they do not only purify our air and combat climate change or floods, but also cool our streets and cities and help ease stress.

She said the value of trees in the country could not be overstated, that is why President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo goes round planting trees not only on the Green Ghana Day, but on other sod cutting occasions.

Significance

Trees are vital for our health and total well-being that is why government has instituted the tree planting ‒ Green Ghana initiative in 2021 ‒ and we do know that in the first year of the implementation of the effort over seven million tree seedlings were planted, Madam Broni said.

“So, what message do you have to encourage others to take up the habit of tree planting?” I asked Madam Broni. And she said “I have a dream and the dream is simple. And it is that every household in the city and vacant lot should be populated with at least some pawpaw trees. This amazing plant is filled with Vitamin D and its numerous health benefits include the fact that the seeds can be used for intestinal worm treatment”.

“We need to strengthen our housing laws and ensure that every house has at least a tree besides the pawpaw to provide shade for the household. This is just like it is done in Burkina Faso, where their housing law stipulates that three trees ought to be planted in each house and a mango tree should be part of that three,”she added.

Madam Broni explained that the need to plant trees by the street side from Madina to Legon; Madina to Pantang and several other areas in different cities was because the value of trees in the society was endless, as they provided shade, oxygen, served as wind breaks, helped to protect the soil and ensure flood control.

“We saw the need to institute the Non-Governmental Organisation called “We-Care” and it came out of the efforts of the youth of OLA,” she added. We-Care, has branches in Tamae, Kumasi and Sunyani, with international branches in Benin and Phillipines, ensures cleaner environments through advocacy on the value of trees in the society.

Our main tree nursery is located at North Legon, but we have other nurseries in Sunyani, Kumasi, Volta and Central regions and all in all we have planted over 150, 000 trees and still counting.

Challenges

“So, you did all this without encountering challenges?” I enquired. “Initially we encountered challenges mainly from some institutions that were sometimes unwilling to readily provide the necessary permit for us to plant trees. And this was the situation till the president introduced the tree planting initiative in 2021.

Quite importantly, the basic challenge remains the watering the seedlings trees and stray animals and goats eating the young trees.  These are indeed our concern. The adoption of the concept green in many societies all over the world is vital as it means the rejuvenation of resources in the environment such that the needs of future generations are not adversely impacted.”

Mr Kofi Taabazuing, an Executive of the OLA-Youth, who was together with Madam Broni at the Major Mahama Roundabout at East Airport, said “every church has a goal, but we in OLA, our effort is to plant trees in every city and entire country”.

Society of African Missions

I also contacted the chaplain in charge of OLA, Reverend Father Jerome Kofi Aduzoka, Society of African Missions (SMA). “We all need to join in the effort to go green. We all need to join the effort to plant trees in our environment because there is a Greek proverb which states that: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in,”” he said.

“Going green helps the environment by reducing the amount of pollution that enters the soil, water and air. More importantly, it is serving as a communal interaction uniting various religious entities in the Madina-Zongo-North Legon area, for a common society goal,” he said.

Father Jerome said various priests from the SMA including Father Wilmar, Father Charles, and currently Father Anthony Didongo, the parish priest of Madina, have all played significant roles in ensuring the success of the effort.

He said though there were various communities such as Haatso, Agbogba, North Legon etc around the Legon Botanical Garden, it was surprising that the tree population outside the gardens were few, and in this regard, more was expected not only from the youth, but from all to help change the situation.    

The writer is with the GNA

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