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Green Ghana trees record high survival rate - Moves underway to replace dead ones

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Trees planted in Tamale in the Savannah Region growing tall
Trees planted in Tamale in the Savannah Region growing tall

Many of the tree seedlings planted last year under the Green Ghana Day have survived the hot weather.

Checks by the Daily Graphic has revealed that nearly all the trees planted in forest areas have survived and are growing very well.

Relatedly, trees which were planted by personalities such as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House; the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, within the precincts of Parliament; the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu, in the Royal Golf Club in Kumasi are all blossoming.

Also, trees that were planted by the diplomatic corps at the seismological centre, near the head office of the Forestry Commission near Greenhill, GIMPA, have all survived.

While many of the trees planted in off-forest reserves, including schools and medians of roads, have survived, others are battling with weeds for survival.

Some of the trees, which survived and started blossoming have been eaten by animals because of monitoring and inadequate nurturing.

Context

Over five million trees were planted on June 11 last year as a government intervention to help restore the country’s degraded landscape and mitigate the impact of climate change.

However, almost a year after the trees were planted, the Daily Graphic's visit to some parts of the country and interactions with officials of the Forestry Commission revealed that although the survival rate of the trees was good, inadequate nurturing was affecting their development.

Greater Accra

In the Greater Accra Region, for instance, our team observed earlier this year that some of the tree seedlings planted on the median of the road between the Okponglo entrance to the University of Ghana and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) were struggling to survive because of inadequate rainfall.

However, as of Monday, May 17, this year when the team visited the spot again, it was observed that some of the trees had revived because of the rain.

On the same stretch, it was also observed that trees that could not withstand the drought had wilted.

On the Aviation road at Adentan, the trees survived. However, most of them were covered with weeds, making them lose their aesthetic impact on the environment.

The Deputy Greater Accra Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, George Agbenowoshi, called on metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) within whose jurisdiction the trees were planted to take steps to protect them.

He also underscored the need for owners of domestic animals especially cattle, goats and sheep, to restrain them, from straying into public spaces to destroy plants and other property.

Ashanti Region

In the Ashanti Region, the Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, Augustine Kofi Gyedu, told the Daily Graphic team that the survival rate for trees planted in the region on the 2021 Green Ghana Day was about 80 per cent.

He said trees planted in forest areas were doing well.

However, Mr Gyedu said inadequate rainfall and poor maintenance culture had caused some of the trees planted in off-reserve areas such as schools, churches, open spaces and median of roads to wither.

Specifically for schools, he said, many of the trees could not survive because they were not properly protected from destruction.

"We needed cages to protect the trees, but this did not happen; so animals ate the trees," Mr Gyedu said.

For trees planted on the median of roads, he said community members failed to protect those trees from being burnt by wildfire.

Mr Gyedu said the worst affected areas were the median of the Juaso-Konongo and Mampong-Nsuta roads.

"The survival rate in these areas is not too good. Some of the trees were overgrown by weeds, so when the highway cleaners were clearing the weeds, they destroyed those trees," he said.

Bush fires

For the Northern Region, the Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, Bernard Tabil, said the survival rate of the trees was 85 per cent.

He said except in a few places where the trees were destroyed by wildfire, most of them were blooming.

For instance, Mr Tabil said, all the trees that were planted in the frontage of the Kamina Barracks near the Tamale Airport were lost to bush fires.

However, he added that the Forestry Commission was collaborating with the military and other stakeholders to replace the burnt trees.

Central Region

The Central Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, Michael Y. Pentsil, said 80 per cent of the maiden Green Ghana Day trees survived, while the remaining 20 per cent perished mainly due to lack of rainfall and poor soil quality.

"There was drought in the region for about three months after the June 11 planting exercise, so some of the seedlings wilted. I personally planted five trees in my house but one of them did not survive," Mr Pentsil said.

He explained that the Forestry Commission in the Central Region was collaborating with its stakeholders such as schools and churches that took part in the last exercise to replace all trees that could not survive during this year’s Green Ghana Day.

Eastern

The story in the Eastern Region is not different from the other regions. Many of the trees survived the drought.

The Eastern Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, Kwabena Poku Bosompim, said the rains delayed in the Afram Plains and Donkorkrom areas, hence some of the trees did not survive.

Lessons

Some of the regional managers said because last year's exercise happened at short notice, the seedlings had to be raised within three months, some of which were still young at the time they were planted, which affected the survival of some of them.

“Learning from that experience, this year's seedlings have been raised quite earlier,” one of them said, and gave an assurance that the survival rate would be higher.

The Ashanti Regional Manager also said based on the experience from last year, they would ensure that all trees planted in schools, in particular, would be caged to protect them from destruction.

Background

In his 2021 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Akufo-Addo announced the Green Ghana initiative to mobilise Ghanaians for an aggressive nationwide tree planting exercise.

Subsequently, Mr Jinapor, on March 23, 2021, launched the greening project as part of activities to mark the International Day of Forests, which fell on March 21.

A 60-member Green Ghana Project Planning Committee was constituted, with a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, as its chairperson.

A number of religious organisations, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church Ghana, the Church of Pentecost and the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, all mobilised their members to plant one million trees each.

The churches alone planted about 3.9 million trees.

Also, the Chief Imam encouraged Muslims to take part in the tree planting project by planting trees around mosques across the country.

Independent checks

Five months after planting the trees, independent investigations by the National Investigations Bureau (NIB) revealed that 85 per cent of the trees that were planted as part of the Green Ghana project had survived.

Speaking at the Meet-the-Press series in Accra on December 16 last year, Mr Owusu-Bio disclosed that the report presented by the NIB showed that 7,193,424 seedlings were distributed to the 16 regions, out of which 6,603,298 were verified as having been planted, with 85 per cent of the trees surviving.

He said the findings of the NIB confirmed the results of the fieldwork that the ministry and the Forestry Commission carried out on the survival rate of the seedlings.

Before the NIB report was published, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had indicated that its initial assessment of the performance of trees planted in forest zones had shown that about 99 per cent of them had survived.

‘Visit your tree’

Subsequently, the ministry rolled out an initiative to take stock of the planted trees.

Dubbed ‘Visit your tree’, the initiative called on all the high-profile personalities who took part in and planted trees on the Green Ghana Day to visit their trees to ascertain how they were faring.

Among the personalities are President Akufo-Addo, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; the Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K Bagbin; the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, and all the heads of religious bodies.