Ghana lost 30% of its forest cover over the past 20 years – Minister of Environment

Ghana lost 30% of it forest cover over the past 20 years - Minister of Environment

Ghana has lost 30 per cent of its forest cover in the past 20 years due to agricultural expansion, logging and mining, Madam Ophelia Mensah Hayford, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation () has said.

Madam Mensah Hayford who is also a Member of for Mfantsiman Constituency, noted that the loss has led to soil erosion, nutrient depletion and reduced water retention capacity.

According to her, the and regions have particularly been affected.

The Minister was speaking at the 's observance of World Environment Day in .

The agency also held an exhibition to mark this year's International Day which was under the theme: “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience.

“Ghana's theme for the day was “Desertification and Drought Resilience- Journey to a greener future.”

Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience are global issues affecting ecosystems, human well-being and the economy. Desertification affects 33 per cent of the world's land, impacting over two billion people. Statistics revealed that droughts also affect over 50 million people worldwide.

Some of the exhibitors include the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Service (CERSGIS), Ghana Metrological Agency (GMA), Accra Compost and Recycling Plant, Water Resource Commission, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Minister noted that the year 2020 drought affected over one million people and caused crop failure and livestock death in Ghana.

“Regular drought now has a disastrous impact on agriculture, water supply and , especially in Northern regions. Crop yields have decreased, and drought susceptibility has grown.”

To promote productivity biodiversity conservation and land restoration, the Minister called for climate-smart agriculture practices, effective water management and sustainable land management techniques.

“Joint efforts are therefore required to achieve sustainable development and ensure a sustainable future for the planet and species,” she said.

Madam Hayford said the theme for the day's celebration required collaboration between government, private sector organisations research institutions, academia and individuals to increase efforts on Ecosystem Restoration scale up mass protection and restoration of degraded landscapes and build drought resilience.

“While progress is being made, the scale and urgency of land restoration, desertification and drought resilience required continued global cooperation, investment, and action to address these pressing environmental Challenges.

To combat Ghana's environmental problems, relevant policies, scientific data and initiatives that concentrate on land restoration, desertification and drought resilience are essential, the Minister said.

She further called for effective collaboration between local communities, non-governmental organisations and state institutions to scale up in addressing environmental issues.

Dr John Kingsley Krugu, Executive Director of EPA said desertification and drought were not only environmental issues but also socio-economic crises that impact millions of people worldwide, especially in the most vulnerable regions.

Dr Krugu therefore called for collective action on the part of the government and other stakeholders in addressing Ghana's environmental challenges.

“By sharing knowledge, resources, and best practices, we can develop holistic solutions that are both effective and sustainable. Let us use this celebration to forge new partnerships, exchange innovative ideas and commit to tangible actions that will restore our lands, combat desertification and build resilience against drought.

Let us remember that the health of our environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity and each of us has a role to play in this mission. Together we can restore our lands, protect our environment and secure a resilient future for all,” he said.

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