EPA calls for urgent land restoration to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

EPA calls for urgent land restoration to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

The (EPA) has underscored the urgent need for the restoration of the environment, particularly land, for multiple benefits to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Dr Asher Nkegbe, the Regional Director of the EPA, said land had been identified as a cross-cutting issue relating to climate change, biodiversity conservation and desertification control, which all countries were striving to achieve. 

In an interview with the on this year's World Environment Day, Dr Nkegbe expressed worry at the continuous destruction and degradation of the environment, particularly land and called for collective action to reverse the trend. 

This year's World Environment Day was held on the theme: “Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience,” with the slogan “Our land, our future.” 

He said human activities such as deforestation, bush burning, unsustainable practices, unregulated mining activities among others, continued to destroy the environment and deepen the pervasive impact of climate change regarding , drought, and desertification. 

Dr Nkegbe who is also the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) National Focal Point, said reversing degraded lands would contribute to ensuring , climate resilience and improvement of livelihoods of vulnerable communities. 

It would also enhance efforts towards attaining the SDGs especially goals, one, two, five, six, 13 and 15, which placed emphasis on attaining no poverty, zero, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, climate action, and life on land respectively by 2030. 

The government through its various ministries, departments and agencies had over the years implemented several interventions including the Ghana Environment Project, Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP), and Adaptation Fund, aimed at addressing the environmental challenges and improving livelihoods.
 
Currently, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MESTI) and the Ministry of through the EPA, the Department of Agriculture, Water Resources Commission among others, are implementing the Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining Project (GLRSSMP), 
This is a six-year government of Ghana and World Bank project building on lessons, experiences, and successes from implementing the SLWMP 
 
The project geographically targets 12 districts in the Northern Zone including ecological zones within the Savannah, Savannah, and the upper portions of the Transitional ecological zone, as well as the Cocoa Forest Landscape in parts of the Forest ecological zone and the Pra River Basin. 

It was aimed at strengthening Ghana's natural resources management, restoring degraded forests and landscapes, formalising, and regulating small-scale mining to increase their benefits to communities in Northern Savannah and Cocoa Forest Zones. 

Dr Nkegbe said under the project, farmers and communities had been empowered to manage natural resources including water bodies, restore degraded lands, and forests and improve sustainable agriculture practices. 

He mentioned interventions such as agroforestry, riparian restoration, construction of dugouts and weirs, woodlot, earth bonding, composting, and stone bonding among others, that were significantly impacting rural communities, adding that about 467,305 hectares of land were under restoration in the Savannah ecological zone. 

He called on stakeholders to help in community and national efforts to restore degraded lands, to avert climate change impacts, particularly by adopting natural regeneration approaches as viable land restoration mechanisms to improve the benefits of land. 

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