Ghana’s forest cover has depleted tremendously in the last thirty years. So widespread and extensive has been the phenomenon of rape that putting figures to it will be akin to taking data on victims of the holocaust in seeking compensation for them.
Across the green belts, the waste and pillage from unauthorised lumbering and illegal mining have been very deplorable.
The attack, especially on Rosewood stock by highly connected people, is also very troubling, as it disables Forestry officials from tackling the issues without running into human obstacles.
However, looking at afforestation from a wider perspective should also draw our attention to the daily browning of the environment in residential areas across the country. Here, estates and private developers, in their appetite to make quick money, destroy trees and vegetation instead of adding greenery to their planning and business of infrastructural development.
While we therefore have some of these residential facilities having enough greenery within, space up the lanes or main streets are left brown and dusty. This results in a further depletion of natural oxygen and ventilation, which the human body needs to stay healthy.
Embarrassingly, throughout this period, very little was done by way of policy and deterrence in restraining delinquents. Invaluable timber species as well as minerals have been lost to private entities and spineless predators.
That some of these acts were facilitated by known politicians had not been disputed, as we continued the blame game, instead of tightening policy and collectively using the existing institutions and laws to stop the rape occurring under our noses.
Eventually when the Akufo-Addo administration decided to fight the scourge that had denuded our collective heritage, what we saw was veiled political support for the criminal actors on the ground instead of proposing ways to deal with the menace.
Eventually when a taskforce was put in place to fight those hiding in the forests and others who had pitched camp along water bodies, graft combined with complicity in worsening the case.
It is in this regard that we hail the Green Ghana Project. It is a critical initiative that should address, in the long term, the irresponsible saga of the depletion of our natural reserves. The rape of our forest cover has dire implications for our economy and health as well as development and wellbeing of our children and children’s children.
Through the initiative, which kicked off last year, the Ministry of Lands and National Resources will be spearheading another effort to plant 20 million trees across the country this year.
Apart from the fact that the economic value is huge, it also has the potential to add tremendous health value in terms of life expectancy of our people. That is aside of the legacy it generates for future generations and potential for sustaining agriculture and formalised mining activity.
It is the opinion of the Daily Statesman that those who are in charge of the project will decentralise its implementation properly, such that every home and street as well as environment, including beaches and parks, is impacted by the programme.
We have often seen such initiatives given so much publicity only for them to fade into insignificance over time. We hope the required efforts will be put in place to ensure the sustainability of this initiative.
Our leaders must prove to us that they are not only capable of initiating beautiful programmes, but they also have the capacity to sustain them in adding credibility to good governance.