fbpx

Nation united to green Ghana - President plants tree at Children's Park

BY: Graphic reporters
Nation united to green Ghana - President plants tree at Children's Park
Nation united to green Ghana - President plants tree at Children's Park

Yet again, Ghanaians responded to the clarion call to help green the country, when they poured out in their numbers to take part in the national tree planting exercise yesterday.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, ministers of state, traditional rulers, religious leaders, students and ordinary Ghanaians were at various locations in the country to plant seedlings to commemorate the second Green Ghana Day Perhaps, as a sign of endorsing the national effort, nature also responded, with the skies opening up and the rain coming down, almost immediately after the exercise ended.

At the national children's park, the Efua Sutherland Park in Accra, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led a team to plant their seedlings.

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Titu 11, joined officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and other dignitaries to plant pine trees at the Royal Golf Course in Kumasi.

Otumfuo was joined by his daughter, Oheemat Nana Afia Kobe Serwa Ampem Osei Tutu, who used the occasion to mark her 16th birthday which falls today.

The Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin led a delegation to the Atewa Forest for the exercise.

The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah planted his seedling at his residence in Accra, while the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, together with the leadership of the Parliament also planted seedlings at the forecourt of Job 600 within the enclaves of Parliament.

Former President John Agyekum Kufour and the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, joined the people of Gomoa Nsuaem to plant trees.

Exercise, rainfall

The second edition of the exercise was aimed at planting 20 million trees and though this year’s effort was directed at encouraging students to actively participate, everyone was encouraged to take part.

As early as 8:00a.m, the exercise had begun nationwide as the dignitaries and other Ghanaians came together to plant their seedlings.

Around 9 a.m, the clouds began gathering and as if it was prompted, as soon as most of the official symbolic planting exercise ended, the rain began to fall.

For those who were not done when it began raining, they had to hold on until it subsided.

President at Efua Sutherland Park

President Akufo-Addo, planted a tree at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra, reports Chris Nunoo.

The President said the country during the maiden edition set for itself a target of planting some five million trees, but ended up planting seven million trees, 80 per cent of which he said had survived and were doing very well.

While commending all Ghanaians and everyone who contributed to the success of last year’s programme, he expressed joy that the Green Ghana Day had no political party colouration, an indication, he said, was an agreement that “we must leave generations unborn no matter the political affiliation with a greener sustainable future.”

The President pointed out that the country had lost some 100,000 acres of natural forests in the last decade alone while the timber industry which generated jobs for thousands of people was suffering.

He mentioned Odoom, Wawa, Mahogany, Sapele and several other wood species of the timber industry as some of the trees which were also depleting at an alarming rate.

Apart from their economic value, he said, forests were home to most of the earth’s terrestrial biodiversity and crucial to the fight against climate change.

He, however, pointed out that the climate crisis had reached a tipping point and said: “We are advised by the experts and teachings of the Paris Agreement of COP 21 to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid the worst impact of climate change, but at the current rate, global warming is projected to reach 3.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.”

He said the commitment went beyond halting deforestation in the cocoa value chain but also halted deforestation and forest degradation generally.

Benefits, threats

Touching on the benefits of trees and indeed forests, President Akufo-Addo indicated that they were necessary for the survival of humankind and that of the planet since “they furnish us with water, food and oxygen and they mitigate climate change to provide us with a livable climate”.

“They prevent erosion, protect our water bodies from siltation and drying up, serve as sources of medicine, make available habitats for wildlife and microorganisms, constitute windbreaks, regulate atmospheric temperature and climate change, give us clean air for good health and offer sources of livelihood for many of our people,” he noted.

Using some statistics to paint the picture on the speed with which forest resources were depleting, the President said: “Some 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods globally while in Ghana some 85 per cent of the population rely on forest resources for subsistence to satisfy their sociocultural needs.

“Despite their importance to our existence, our forests are depleting at an alarming rate.”

More troubling, according to President Akufo-Addo, is the current data which he said showed that “globally, we are losing 150 acres of rain forest every single minute, 200,000 acres a day and 79 million acres a year.”

Appreciation

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, expressed appreciation to President Akufo-Addo for his continued support for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and for introducing what he described as a bold and ambitious initiative to build a more sustainable and greener future.

Mr Jinapor, whose ministry is spearheading the agenda of the President to green the country with trees, said in its quest to discharge its fiduciary duty of managing the forests and wildlife resources of the country, the ministry and its agencies had adopted a two-pronged approach, the first of which is to protect existing forests and wildlife resources by halting deforestation.

Accordingly, he said: “We have suspended all reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration activities in forest reserves, except in exceptional circumstances.”

He said the Forestry Commission had established a rapid response team which was working with the other security agencies to ensure strict compliance with those bans, and to clamp down on all illegal logging activities.

The Commission, Mr Jinapor said, had also introduced a solar-powered electronic wood tracking system, which enabled it to track wood from the forest, till its final disposal and also a digital property marking and registration system, which allowed loggers to register and renew their property marks from the comfort of their homes.

“We are also implementing the Joint Framework for Action, which we signed in 2017 with 36 cocoa and chocolate producing companies, under the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), to halt deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa value chain,” he noted, saying through the Forest Investment Programme (FIP), “we are addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the high forest and transitional zones, to enhance carbon stocks and improve the livelihoods of rural communities.”

Since 2018, the Lands and Natural Resources Minister said: “We have planted 123.2 hectares of the Achimota Forest through the Youth in Afforestation Programme, to ensure that we bring the forest to the status of its name.”

Speaker rallies Ghanaians

Planting his seedling, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Bagbin called on Ghanaians to join the efforts at protecting the environment by ensuring that the trees they planted yesterday were nurtured to maturity, Samuel Duodu reports.

He said it was his wish that the annual event would not just be for the planting of tree seedlings, but it would become a tree growing exercise.

“Let us look out for the trees we plant and make sure they grow. That is the best way to make progress on climate change”, he stated.

The first to plant his seedling at the exercise at the forecourt of Job 600, Mr Bagbin planted the seedling of “ Tree of Life “ with the scientific name lignum vitae while that of the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, was planted on his behalf by the Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, followed by the Deputy Second Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah.

The First Deputy Majority Whip, Lydia Seyram Alhassan, planted on behalf of the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu while that of the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu was planted by the Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim.

The exercise would be extended to the Speaker’s and the Clerk’s official residences.

The exercise was however disrupted by the rain as the Clerk to Parliament and his deputies and the various representatives of Parliament had to do so after the rain had subsided.

Mr Bagbin stressed the importance Parliament attached to the exercise, saying Ghanaians might have noticed that the House did not sit today and both members of the Majority and Minority groups have travelled to their constituencies for the tree planting exercise.

“This bears testimony to the statement once made by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, that “ saving the planet isn’t a partisan issue”, he stated.

Change in attitude

Mr Bagbin urged Ghanaians not to continue to consign the country’s environmental and climate challenges to the environmental scientists alone but to make a concerted effort towards protecting the environment.

Mr Bagbin quoted the Australian musician, Peter Garrett, who said: “Climate change is such a huge issue that it requires a strong, concerted, consistent and enduring action by governments, to buttress his point”.

“ When we look to the south, the sea is rising around us all the time. Parts of La have been completely wiped off the surface of this earth, and it was a growing beach community called Bortor”, he said.

He further noted that huge portions of Keta, Dzelukope and allied beach communities and settlements in the Volta Region had been completely eclipsed by tidal waves.

“ Today, residents of these areas point to kilometres into the sea to show where their houses once stood and the European cemetery lay”, he stated.

Diplomatic Community

From the Achimota Forest, Timothy Ngnenbe & Elizabeth Konadu-Boakye report that the diplomatic community in Ghana marked the Green Ghana Day by planting trees at the Ghana Seismological Observation Centre, near the head office of the Forestry Commission.

Members of the diplomatic corps who were joined by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, to plant their commemorative trees, tagged their seedlings with special numbers and their national flags.

The key personalities who planted trees were the Indian High Commissioner, Sagandh Rajaram; European Union (EU) Ambassador, Irchad Razaaly; an official from the Embassy of Japan, Nuoki Mitori; High Commissioner of Barbados, Suliette Rubb-Riley; Colombian Ambassador, Claudia Turbay; and Ambassador of Lebanon, Maher Kheir.

The others were the Nigerian High Commissioner, Ibas Ibok-Ele; Togo Ambassador, Panassa Awok; Ethiopian Ambassador, Hadera Abera; Ambassador of Cote d’Voire, Edi Serge; representative of British High Commission, Beveney Okoye; and the first Secretary to Equatorial Guinea Embassy, Victor Esonu.

Also there to plant seedlings were the Ambassador of Sudan, Mohammed A. Yasin Mohamed; Counsellor, Togo Embassy, Baka Sondou; Chief Protocol of Togo Embassy, Mauzama-Esso Koye; National Timber Monitoring Coordinator, Alexander Asum, as well as the Founder of Salt and Light Ministry and member of the Green Ghana National Planning Committee, Rev. Dr Joyce Aryee, Commanding Officer 5BN, Lt Colonel Prince Yaw Tandoh, and a number of clergymen.

Support

The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey, said it was important for all stakeholders to continue to support the government’s efforts to plant more trees to replenish the depleted landscape.

Mr Allotey said he was confident that the target to plant 50 per cent of the 20 million trees in the various forest belts would help to breathe a new lease of life into the forest areas of the country.

The Colombian Ambassador and Dean of the diplomatic corps, Claudia Turbay Quintero, said the presence of the diplomatic community at the function was to demonstrate how important it was to them to make the country and the world greener.

“Let me say that all countries represented here are doing same in their respective countries but once we are not there, we have taken Ghana as our own and we are ready to give our full support and plant to make the country greener,” she said.

Economic value

In Kumasi, Daniel Kenu & Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor report that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was joined by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah and the Technical Director for Lands at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Maxwell Adu-Nsafoa.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu commended the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, for his initiative to preserve the country’s ecology with the national tree planting exercise and urged the ministry to sustain the exercise, no matter the challenges for the sake of posterity.

He said the focus should be on planting economic trees especially on the principal streets of the country for economic values and to provide shade.

In all, the Ashanti Region would be planting two million seedlings throughout the region as part of the agenda to green the region.

Mr Osei-Mensah said it was possible that the region would exceed the target as it did last year.

He said last year, the region had a target of one million trees, but exceeded it and planted 1.5 million trees, most of which were doing well.

Okyenhene plants in Atewa Forest

Haruna Yussif Wunpini reports from Segyimase-Kyebi that Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin led officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),the Forestry Commission as well as the Okyeman Environment Foundation (OEF) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Office of the Presidency, to plant tree seedlings in the Atewa Forest at Kyebi.

The Okyenhene said planting of trees was very necessary since that would go a long way to protect the environment, stressing that it was important for children especially schoolchildren to be taught how to plant trees.

He expressed worry about the manner in which individuals were destroying the forest for their selfish interests, stressing that the world was united ecologically and, therefore, “when we destroy the ecological system we destroy ourselves,’’ the Okyenhene stated.

The Okyenhene, who is also an environmentalist, further called on his people and the entire populace to support the government’s Green Ghana Day initiative which seeks to plant 20 million trees this year.

“All Ghanaians must get themselves involved in the tree seedlings, planting and take care of them to grow. No one is going to get rich doing this but it is a service that will enhance our living and our environment, so plant a tree today and watch it grow” Okyenhene noted.

Osagyefuo expressed delight that the government had seen the need to plant trees as they were regulators of temperatures everywhere around the world which kept every human being alive.

He also encouraged Ghanaians to lead the charge in the region and support the initiative, saying “you are not doing this for the President or me, but yourselves and your generation.

Also, you are not only planting trees, you are planting your future”.

The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi, called on the people of Kyebi and its environs, including farmers, schoolchildren, small and large businesses and development partners to develop the interest in planting trees.

“We know that if we work together, we can restore our degraded lands and expand forest-based livelihoods faster.

Reports suggest that there is a success rate of 85 per cent from last year’s events. This shows that we can truly achieve a lot more this year through partnership. We are so pleased to be partnering the Okyeman Foundation, civil society organisations and the communities represented here not only to restore the forest cover but also to improve social outcomes and expand local livelihood opportunities”, Dr Lusigi stated.

As part of the UN family in Ghana, Dr Lusigi indicated the UNDP was committed to supporting national and local efforts to address the root cause of multi-dimensional poverty and natural resource degradation in the country.

The Kyebi District Manager of the Forestry Commission, Emmanuel Antwi, who said he was excited about the exercise, indicated that species such as Mahogany, Ofram, emire and Cassia had been planted in the Atewa Forest Reserve.

He thanked the Okyenhene for his efforts and participation while highlighting his role in last year’s edition of the Green Ghana campaign, saying “with your leadership and support, last year during Green Ghana, the Eastern Region exceeded its target of 500,000 trees as we planted 700,000 trees and we’re grateful”.

Nkosuo tree

Doreen Andoh writes that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, planted a tree, which she named, “Nkosuo tree” at the premises of the ministry.

In a brief speech, the minister said the exercise was key to delivering on the national afforestation drive.

“Apart from beautification, trees trap carbon dioxide to improve human, environmental and animal health. They also improve climate change adaptation to reduce temperature increases, fertilise degraded lands and recharge groundwater tables,” she stated.

Though other top officials of the ministry also took turns to plant trees at the event, Ms Botchwey said more seedlings would be provided for officials of the ministry to plant in their homes, farms and neighbourhood.

Kufuor, Chief Imam at Gomoa Nsuaem

Former President Kufour and Sheikh Sharubutu led other personalities such as the Central Regional Minister Justina Marigold Assan, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hawa Koomson and the Deputy Minister for the Interior and Member of Parliament for Gomoa Central, Naana Eyiah, in the exercise at Gomoa Nuaem in the Central Region, reports Shirley Asiedu-Addo.

Also present at the ceremony initiated by Richie Plantations Limited at Gomoa Nsuaem were the chiefs, pupils and the other members of the community The Richie Plantations and R&B Farms are supporting the region with more seedlings to increase its official target of 1.6 million seedlings to achieve about four million trees this year.

Time to restore

In an address, former President Kufour said it was time to restore what humanity had destroyed through greed and to set an example to the youth that it was good to preserve the environment.

He explained that while God in his infinite wisdom had created the earth to work in harmony, increase in population with its consequent impact on the environment had caused immense damage to the natural order.

The former President called for a more responsible attitude towards the environment.

The Central Regional Minister, Mrs Assan, urged all to support the campaign to achieve the region’s 1.6 million trees target.

The Chief Executive Officer of Richie Plantations Limited, Richard Ekow Quansah, said he would support the region to plant over four million trees this year.