People of all walks of life are participating in the “Green Ghana” project aimed at saving declining forest reserves.
A massive effort to plant five million trees in Ghana began Friday as part of a nationwide campaign to save declining forest reserves.
Under the “Green Ghana” program, the government has provided gift cards to people from all walks of life, including celebrities, officials, parliamentarians, traditional leaders and scholars.
Religious and charitable organizations and leaders of numerous ethnic groups also participated in Friday’s activities, while President Nana Akufo-Addo planted a memorial tree in the garden of the Jubilee House, the government headquarters in the capital, Accra.
“This is the time for action. We are sitting on a bomb at the same time, ”said Samuel Abu Jinapor, minister of land and natural resources.
“Our forest cover is shrinking due to galamsey and tree harvesting for different purposes,” he told the AFP news agency, using a local term for informal small-scale mining.
“Green Ghana’s goal is to save us now and our future generations. We cannot fail our future leaders.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Ghana is one of the tropical countries with the highest percentage of rainforest loss in the world.
Ghana’s current forest cover is 1.6 million hectares (about 4 million hectares), down from 8.2 million hectares (20 million hectares) in 1900, according to government statistics.
Informal exploitation of the small scale of gold and indiscriminate felling of trees without adequate reforestation have led to great environmental degradation in the country. Akufo-Addo has promised a small-scale crackdown on informal mining.
The director of operations of the Forestry Commission, Hugh Brown, said the “Green Ghana” project seemed ambitious but the government is committed to supporting it in the next five years.
“We have had similar projects in the past. Once the trees are planted, everyone leaves and ends up dying. This time we do an annual deal, ”he told AFP.
Côte d’Ivoire last year also launched a “tree day”, hoping to counter some of the deforestation caused largely by cocoa cultivation.
“I’m happy to be part of this beautiful event. So far we have planted 15 trees today, ”said Rosemond Asante, a 12-year-old student in Accra.
“My colleagues are excited and have given us some of the plants to take home to plant even with our parents over the weekend. I love the trees.”