Trees are crucial for the survival of not only humans, but other living things and elements of nature such as animals and rivers.
Professor Elvis Asare-Bediako, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural thus epitomised in an address in Sunyani during the Bono Regional observation of this year’s Green Ghana Day (GGD) that everything concerning the well-being of human beings is about trees.
He buttressed his assertion that “I am an agriculturalist and I know the roles trees have played in my life. I eat from trees in the morning, afternoon, and evening. When I am not well, I get medicine from trees, at home I sleep on trees, I sit on trees and write on trees.
When I give speeches, I stand by trees and speak to people sitting on trees. I wear clothes from trees taken from a wardrobe given to me by trees.”
Prof. Asare-Bediako’s position to a significant extent implied the indispensability of trees to prevent climate change crises which has become the greatest threat to sustainable environment and development because of its great adverse impact on humankind, both current and future generations.
Climate change is being experienced because of environmental degradation and that is demonstrated in the case of Ghana by the alarming rate at which the country’s forest cover has been depleting and reduced drastically from 8.2 to 4.94 million within the last century.
According to various schools of thought such as forest scientists and researchers as well as environmentalists and experts in other related fields, the state of environmental degradation today which is accelerating an unprecedented rate of climate change crises is due to the activities of humankind.
They cite the nation’s agriculture, timber and mining industries coupled with the socio-economic activities in relation to physical infrastructural development as undeniably some major causes to that effect.
Mr .Isaac Noble Eshun, the Bono Regional Director of the Forestry Services Division has said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Sunyani the destruction of trees has been a threat to the eco-systems and the world at large because forest covered 31 per cent of the world’s land surface.
He said the rate of trees destruction was massive and could be attributed to population increase which has led to illegal chain-sawing, illegal-mining and agriculture expansion, wildfires, urban sprawling, wood harvesting and others with negative impact on the economy, human health, and agriculture.
Mr Eshun stated agriculture and wood harvesting contributed to about 80 per cent of tree destruction in Ghana, saying Ghana’s forest cover has been reduced from 8.2 to 4.94 million over a century.
According to a report of the Forestry Commission, he added between 1990 and 2005, the country lost 1.9 million hectares or 26 per cent of forest cover and the rate of deforestation in Ghana now stands at 65,000 hectres per annum, saying the above statistics pointed to serious trend of tree destruction.
Naturally, Mr. Eshun stated trees regulate and stabilise climatic conditions, the quality of air as well as their psychological effects on human behaviour and mental health.
In this wise, he added it is only when trees disappear that negative environmental impact becomes obvious.
Mr Eshun observed about 1.25 billion people including Ghanaians worldwide relied on forests for shelter, livelihoods, water, fuel, and food security. Hence the destruction of tree poses serious challenges to Ghana’s economy as well as the capacity of forest eco-system to sustainably supply critical goods and services for the country.
Agriculture is an essential source of income in most developing countries as the FAO’s world land use data shows 12 per cent of the global land use are for arable and permanent crops, and 27 per cent for permanent pasture, he said.
But since the agriculture industry is highly dependent on soil, weather, climate, and water availability which are also reliant on trees to remain in the rightful natural state, destruction of trees therefore meant adverse impact on agriculture productivity.
Mr Eshun expressed worry that when trees are destroyed, complex ecosystems are disrupted and human communities that depend on forests also suffer the resultant consequences because that lead to loss of soil nutrients and thus affect crop productivity and pasture.
He explained health-wise too destruction of trees have a damning effect on the survival of humankind. This is because trees absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by human activities and produced oxygen for the survival of humans.
This means as the nation continues to experience more trees destruction, our health continues to be in danger because there would be less amount of oxygen to breathe in and more amount of carbon dioxide for less or no trees to absorb. This situation would be highly injurious to “our health and survival,” he said.
It against this background that the government must be commended for the introduction of the GGD project to save the situation.
The GGD project is an immediate step to save the living, the environment, and the forest by encouraging planting, nurturing and preservation of planted tree seedlings to become trees to protect humanity and the environment.
The project was launched last year by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as part of an aggressive forestation and reforestation project to restore the lost forest cover of the country and contribute to global efforts against climate change.
The target was to plant 5,000,000 tree seedlings but records indicated excess of more than 7,000,000 tree seedlings of various species were planted with about 80 per cent survival rate now.
President Akufo-Addo at the second edition of the project launched in March this year on the theme “Mobilising for a Greener Ghana” observed “trees are necessary for our survival and the survival of the planet.”
The onus now is on every Ghanaian to support government for the success of the GGD project because the death of the last tree in Ghana is the death of the last Ghanaian.
A GNA Feature by Regina Benneh, GNA