The Dean of the School of Sustainable Development of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) at Somanya, Professor Anthony Amoah, has called for an urgent action to help protect the country’s forests and reserves from depletion.
He bemoaned the fast-depletion of the country’s forests and reserves, calling for an immediate steps to halt the situation.
For him, the country’s forests and reserves were under serious threat due to encroachment and other human activities, including farming and estate development.
Speaking at a workshop organised by the Environment and Natural Resource Research Initiative (ENRRI), in partnership with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on Friday, October 29, 2021, Prof. Amoah, noted that many protected forests and reserves had been under attacks in the last decade.
He said protected forests, including the Achimota Forest, Shai Hills, Gua Kuo Forest were all under attacks, noting that the country was losing huge sums of money due to the fast-depletion of its forests and reserves.
Citing the World Bank report of 2019, he explained that in spite of efforts towards preserving Ghana's forest resources, it is estimated that net forest depletion which was US$1.578 billion in 2010 had risen to USD$3.134 billion in 2017.
That, Prof. Amoah noted, “shows a net forest depletion of over 98 per cent from 2010-2017.”
He was of the view that the country’s forests and reserves could be turned into world-class eco-tourism and recreational centers for revenue generation and employment creation.
For him, insects, medicinal plants and animals formed a great part of the country’s forests and reserves, and that also presented another avenue for revenue generation from the forests.
ENRRI – EfD Ghana
The seminar, which was organised by the ENRRI – EfD Ghana, brought together representatives from the various sectors, including representatives from the Forest Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Researchers, Academics, the media, and Civil Society Organisations.
The Environment and Natural Resource Research Initiative (ENRRI – EfD Ghana) is one of the 15 centres under the Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative, which contributes to the sustainable management of natural resources through capacity development, policy-relevant research and policy engagement.
ENRRI – EfD Ghana brings together accomplished researchers with varied expertise in environmental economics from Ghana and elsewhere to conduct evidence-based research, and advise government and development partners on policy options for managing the environment and scarce natural resources.
Touching on how to protect the country’s forests and reserves, Prof. Amoah called on key stakeholders, particularly the Forestry Commission, to build trust with the communities within which the forests and reserves were situated in order to help protect such facilities.
He said when people see that the Forestry Commission was working to halt the depletion of the forests, it would encourage people to support the idea.
Underestimation of benefits
For his part, a Natural Resource Economist and Director of the ENRRI – EfD Ghana, Professor Wisdom Akpalu, said the forests and reserves offer a lot of benefits—direct and indirect benefits for both the present and unborn generations, saying that it was a responsibility on all Ghanaians to help protect the country’s forests.
“It is our duty to bequeath the forest to the future generation in a much better form,” he said, noting that the forests could be protected if all stakeholders built trust.
“Without trust, institutions become powerless,” Prof. Akpalu said, adding “If the processes that build trust are inherently corrupt, then it becomes a problem."
For him, ENRRI – EfD Ghana would continue to research into areas that could help the country to develop sustainably.