About 1.1 million hectares of the country’s degraded lands have been restored since 2019. This represents about 55 per cent of the two million hectares targeted to be restored by 2030 under the African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR100) initiative. The restoration effort has also generated rural employment for an estimated average of 75,000 persons yearly, and contributed close to 294,000 metric tonnes of food crops made up of mainly plantain, cereals, legumes, tubers and vegetables. Ghana is one of 28 countries, 10 of them in West Africa, benefitting from the AFR100 initiative aimed at restoring lands that have lost their vegetation cover by 2030. The Executive Director of the Forest Service Division of the Forestry Commission, Hugh C. A. Brown, said since 2016, with the support of government, the private sector, rural communities, and non-governmental organisations, the country had established a total of 139,000 hectares of forest plantations nationwide. He said 30,000 hectares of enrichment planting had been undertaken using native tree species at the rate of between 18 to 21 trees per hectare, as well as 948,000 hectares of cocoa farms. Mr Brown was speaking in Accra at the launch of a tree planting exercise by the Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG). The exercise, which formed part of the bank’s commitment to environmental sustainability, is to plant 60,000 trees in selected local communities across the country. During the launch, the bank also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Forestry Commission to restore 15 hectares of the deforested portion of the Southern Scarp Forest Reserve in the Kwahu South District to help to preserve the natural landscape.
Forest restoration
The country is estimated to lose some 165,000 hectares of forest cover annually. The causes of deforestation include mining, logging, agriculture, wildfire, firewood, charcoal making and settlements. Mr Brown noted that forests provided crucial ecosystem services for humans, and ultimately helped to sustain life on earth. He said the provision of those services was seriously threatened by continual deforestation and land degradation. In response to those detrimental processes, he said, there had been an urgent need to restore the forest ecosystems. Mr Brown said that was reflected in the various global commitments such as the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and many others. In that regard, he said, there was an urgent need for governments to deliver on existing ecosystem restoration commitments with active participation and support of non-state actors, ranging from the private sector, NGOs, and citizens. He commended the CBG for hearing the clarion call and deciding to walk the talk by investing in restoring the country’s deforested and degraded forest landscapes.
Importance of trees
The Managing Director of CBG, Daniel Addo, said trees played a critical role in addressing the challenges of the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide, producing oxygen, preventing soil erosion and providing habitats for countless species of plants and animals. He said CBG recognised that it had a responsibility to be stewards of the environment. “That is why we are proud to launch this tree-planting initiative, which aligns directly with our commitment to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and Ghana’s nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement,” he said. He said the exercise would not only help to beautify the environment but also help to address the pro-leasing environmental challenges facing the world. Mr Addo said as a bank that drove sustainability, CBG had incorporated sustainable practices into its processes. “That is why we are honoured to partner with local organisations and community groups who share our passion for environmental stewardship,” he added.