The Executive Director of the Rural Urban Partnership for Africa (RUPFA), Mr Richard Ashaley, says the country is rapidly losing its primary forest cover and that calls for measures to address it.
He indicated that the country had shown less commitment to protecting its forest belt, hence the need for all stakeholders to come on board to rescue the situation.
“Records show that at the turn of the last century, Ghana had about 8.8 million hectares of primary forest. By 1950, the area had been reduced to 4.2 million hectares and further to 1.5 million hectares by 1999,” he said.
At the inauguration of the RUPFA Green Club (RGC) at the St John Grammar School in Accra, Mr Ashaley said the outturn implied that between 1900 and 1950, the nation lost half of its primary forest cover and 60 per cent between 1950 and 1999.
That, he said, could have a crippling effect on the country if care was not taken.
Mr Ashaley said the situation prompted the RUPFA to partner the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initiate an educational and awareness campaign on the theme: “Protection of forest and biodiversity/climate change campaign” in second cycle schools and communities in 2011.
The initiative, he said, gave birth to the RGC with the aim of sustaining the campaign targeted at alerting the public to change certain activities causing the destruction.
Mr Ashaley said the objective of the RGC was to protect and preserve the environment through greening (the planting of trees).
He added that the involvement of students would empower tomorrow’s leaders to become agents of the campaign and help reduce the burden on institutions mandated to deal with environmental challenges.
The Accra West Regional Director of the EPA, Mrs Sally Biney, lauded the initiative and said, “It is the duty of every citizen to protect and safeguard the environment.”
She said aside from the destruction of the forest belt, the country also faced challenges with issues of soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, improper waste disposal, water pollution and global warming.
According to her, activities such as deforestation, agriculture construction, mining and industrialisation contributed to the menace.
“As a nation, development must be encouraged but not to the detriment of the environment,” she said.
For his part, the District Manager for the FC, Ms Linda Kumi Yeboah, said the loss of the forest cover was a contributory factor to flooding, noise, dust and heat mostly experienced in urban areas.