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"Trees planted in degraded forest reserves are expected to mature into valuable timber resources, which will bolster Ghana’s economy through exports" - Hugh Brown

Ghana is set to plant six million seedlings in its degraded forest reserves as part of an ambitious initiative to restore its forest cover and combat climate change.


Spearheaded by the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry and Forestry Commission, this effort is a significant expansion of the Green Ghana project, which has been actively promoting tree planting since 2021.


Origins of the Initiative

The Green Ghana initiative began in 2021 with a focus on urban areas, homes, and schools.


Hugh Brown, Executive Director of the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission, explained that the initial goal was to engage urban populations and raise awareness about the importance of tree planting.


However, as the program evolved, it became evident that the scale of the project needed to increase to make a more substantial impact.


Shifting Focus to Forest Reserves

With the growing target, it became clear that urban areas alone would not suffice to accommodate the millions of seedlings planned.


Therefore, in 2022, the initiative shifted its focus, with half of the trees being planted in degraded forest reserves.


This year, the focus has intensified, with 60% of the ten million trees destined for these degraded forest reserves.


“We realized we had large areas of degraded forest reserves that could benefit from this initiative,” said Mr. Brown.


He said “By planting trees in these areas, we not only restore the lost forest cover but also ensure that these trees, once mature, can contribute to the country’s timber needs and exports.”


Strategic Planting for Economic and Environmental Benefits

The choice to plant a significant portion of the seedlings in forest reserves is strategic.


These reserves provide the necessary space for large-scale planting and ensure the survival of trees in an environment suited for their growth.


Additionally, the trees planted in these reserves are expected to mature into valuable timber resources, which will bolster Ghana’s economy through exports.


Maintenance and Monitoring

A critical aspect of the initiative is the long-term maintenance and monitoring of the planted trees.


Mr. Brown highlighted that the Forestry Commission employs a modified taungya system in the forest reserves.


This system involves collaboration with local communities and farmers who tend to both food crops and tree crops for the first three years, ensuring proper care during the crucial early stages of growth.


“In urban areas, we work closely with parks and gardens, as well as educational institutions, to maintain the trees,” Mr. Brown noted.


“However, we’ve faced challenges with stray animals and maintenance in cities, and we are working with municipal and district assemblies to protect these plantings.”


A Non-Partisan Effort

The Green Ghana initiative has received widespread support across the political spectrum, emphasizing its non-partisan nature.


“Trees, forests, and timber have no political colors,” Mr. Brown asserted.


“This effort unites us as Ghanaians, much like our national soccer team does.”


Addressing Financial Concerns

Addressing concerns about potential financial misuse, Mr. Brown stressed the transparency and tight budgeting of the initiative.


“We operate on a very tight budget, with significant support from donors and sponsors,” he said.


"I do not see this as an avenue for financial gain but as a collective effort to combat climate change and restore our forests.”


Community Involvement and Future Goals

The football gala held at the Sabah Field, University of Ghana, Legon, which involved various institutions including the Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the National Petroleum Authority, and Star Assurance, was a testament to the community’s engagement with the initiative.


The event aimed to raise awareness and encourage participation in the Green Ghana project.


As the President of Ghana prepares to plant the first tree at Bema Camp on June 7, several other activities are planned across the country.


These include tree planting events in the degraded Chippa Forest Reserve among others, with participation from various community groups and the Diplomatic Corps.


“We believe that this year, as we have done in the past, we will achieve our target,” Mr. Brown stated optimistically.


“With the support of the community and our partners, we are making significant strides towards a greener and more sustainable Ghana.”


He hinted that the initiative to plant six million seedlings in degraded forest reserves was a well-planned effort to restore Ghana’s forests, support the economy, and combat climate change.


With strategic planting, robust maintenance plans, and widespread community support, Mr. Brown stressed, the Green Ghana initiative is set to make a lasting impact.


On his part, Senior Development Planning Officer with the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, Reynolds Offei Kwapong highlighted the urgent need for collective action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

"We are witnessing significant changes in weather patterns and climate trends in Africa," Mr. Kwapong noted.


"The Green Ghana initiative is part of our strategy to tackle these challenges head-on, not just in Ghana, but globally."


"This initiative is crucial in our fight against deforestation and climate change," Mr. Kwapong emphasized.


"By increasing our forest cover, we can help mitigate the adverse effects that climate change brings."


Mr. Kwapong expressed optimism about expanding the initiative in the future.


"We aim to involve more institutions and make this an all-inclusive event. As Honourable Jinapor, our Lands Minister, has stated, we encourage all institutions, churches, groups, and individuals to participate in this year's Green Ghana initiative."


The Green Ghana initiative is scheduled for Friday, June 7, 2024.


The ambitious goal is to plant 10 million trees across the country. Kwapong called on everyone to join this effort, underscoring its significance in achieving sustainable environmental goals.


"This is a call to action for everyone. Let us all come together to plant trees and ensure a greener, healthier Ghana."


The Green Ghana initiative represents a significant step towards combating climate change and promoting sustainability.


As the world grapples with environmental challenges, such initiatives offer hope and a practical pathway to a better future.

 

A football gala was held as part of preparation for the Green Ghana celebration.


Four institutions, National Petroleum Authority, Forestry Commission, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and Star Assurance came face to face with each other.


National Petroleum Authority should class as they won the trophy.

Coming from 2 goals down in the first half, the men in blue played their heart out and managed to equalise all two goal.


The game headed to a penalty shootout of which NPA's manged to score all three.

Forestry Commission came second while Star Assurance grabbed the third position.


The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources football team emerged as fourth after the football gala.


Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith

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