Student from five senior high schools (SHSs) in the Bono Region thrilled audience with their depth of knowledge about environmental degradation and its attendant threat to food security and human survival during a debate organised as part of activities marking this year’s Forestry Week and Greening Ghana Day in Sunyani.
The participating schools, Saint James Seminary/Senior High School, Abesim; Sacred Heart Senior High School, Nsoatre; Sunyani Senior High School and Notre Dame Senior High School, Fiapre, and Twene Amanfo Senior High/Technical School, Sunyani, exhibited their prowess on three environmental topics during the debate.
The three topics debated on were: Illegal mining as an emerging environmental threat should not be a priority or concern to the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions; A threat to the forest cover of Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions also poses a threat to food security in the regions; and Charcoal burning as a livelihood option should be banned.
It was, however, the representatives of the Sacred Heart Senior High who emerged winners when they defeated the highly-rated representatives from the St James Seminary and SHS when they debated on illegal mining as an emerging environmental threat should not be a priority or concern to the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions.
The debators from the Sacred Heart SHS, Rolda Gyan Takyiwaa, Esther Annor Effah and Mary Oppong, who spoke for the motion garnered 78.5 points as against the 69.5 points by the lads from St James Seminary/SHS, Davis Aboagye, Kelvin Joshua Ametefe and Kweku Faka Gyan.
Sunyani SHS won the second debate on the threat to forest cover in the three regions also poses a threat to food security with 69.5 points as against 66.5 points obtained by Notre Dame SHS while Twene Amanfo SHS/Technical School had a field day during the third debate with 70.5 points when Berekum SHS failed to take part in the debate on charcoal burning as a livelihood option should be banned.
Youth in forestry
Speaking before the debate, the Public Relations Manager of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Mr Joseph Yaw Oppong, said measures should be taken to seek ideas from the youth to be integrated into policies for the management of the country’s forest resources.
“We want you not to sit on the fence but rather share your ideas as to how we can manage our forest and wildlife resources”, he stated, explaining that the debate was meant to build a constituency of future policy makers so that they would know how to incorporate environmental issues in future national policies.
Speaking after the debate, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Forest Science at the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Mr Daniel Akoto Sarfo, called on the government to prioritise and tackle the threat of illegal mining and charcoal burning.
He commended the Forestry Commission for using the debate to afford the youth a chance to articulate their views and ideas about the environment, and called on the debaters to continue to deliberate on the topics in their respective schools.
The theme for the celebration was ‘Forest and Education, Our responsibility’.
Even though March 21 has been designated as Forestry Week and Greening Day, the Forestry Commission rescheduled the national celebration to June 12 at Nsoatre in the Sunyani West District in the Bono Region.