•Amanor Evans (middle) receiving the winning prize from John Allotey, Chief Executive Officer, Forestry Commision
•Amanor Evans (middle) receiving the winning prize from John Allotey, Chief Executive Officer, Forestry Commision

PRESEC wins International Forest Day debate

THE Presbyterian Boys Senior High School (PRESEC) was declared winners of the International Day of Forests 2023 debate held as part of the celebrations to mark the global day, after beating Achimota Senior High School. 

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Organised by the Forestry Commission, it was on the topic; “Mining contributes significantly to Ghana’s foreign exchange and GDP. Some of the ore deposits are found in Forest Reserves. Do you think we should mine in Forest Reserves?”

It was aimed at inculcating the spirit of conservation and preservation of the country’s forest reserves in young people and giving them the chance to contribute to the national discourse on the protection of our environment. 

The Day is celebrated annually on March 21 and this year’s theme was” “Forests and Health.”

Achimota SHS, which was for the motion, argued that mining in  forest reserves had the potential to alleviate the country’s economic problems, if done responsibly since the industry was already contributing about 39 per cent of the country’s GDP.

They also noted that companies were obliged by law to reclaim their mining areas and for that reason the forests were not lost completely but were rejuvenated.

They also argued that legal mining in forests could fight illegal mining which had plagued the country, saying that legally, licensed companies would be incentivised to fight off illegal mining operators and also gainfully employ such miners.

PRESEC, which was against the motion, argued that the concept of “Green mining” was a far fetched reality and as such, with whatever technology used, the forests and its trees that trapped carbon dioxide, would adversely be affected.

In that vein, they argued that forest reserves were essential in mankind’s fight against climate change and global warming, which was  threatening lives and livelihoods as well as animal species and medicinal plants.

Therefore, whatever economic gains that had been made from mining in forests was nothing compared to the cost of fighting climate change and attempting to fix the environment.

For that reason, they were of the view that no amount of money made could justify the environmental damage of felling trees for minerals. 

Significance

A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, underscored the need to include senior high schools located within forest belts to ensure the discussions reached those at the centre of it all.

He, therefore, noted that the celebration was to create awareness worldwide of the importance of forests and the various aspects that needed to be looked at to ensure that present and future generations would benefit from it.

The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey, intimated that the success of the debate was evident that young people had a lot to offer the nation in terms of ideas and as such the commission would organise more engagements across the country so more students could contribute. 

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