The Minister of Lands and Natural resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, the plan to plant 5 million trees under the Green Ghana Initiative will help recover from the effect of the illegal small scale mining (Galamsey) on the environment.
Briefing the press on the initiative, Mr Jinapor said the purpose of the exercise forms part of a government strategy to embark on an aggressive afforestation drive to protect and restore the forest cover lost over a period of time due to illicit activities and harness the environment in Ghana.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it will surprise all of us to learn that as at the year 1900, the forest cover of Ghana stood at 8,200,000 hectres.
“This forest cover has been depleted by a whopping 80% and today as we speak, the forest cover of the country stands at just 1,600,000 hectres. This is the least alarming and the time to act is now,” he said.
He blamed the depletion of the lost cover to “years of systematic degradation, small scale mining and illegal logging in an unstable manner without the commensurate afforestation.”
He said without aggressive afforestation, the situation will get worse “so the goal of the Initiative is to bring about the needed consciousness to awaken the country to the need to plant trees to save our forest cover and the environment at large.”
“The feat of countries such as Israel and Ethiopia where no picnic ends without a tree being planted and the Prime Minister led 19 million people to plant 350 million trees in a day respectively.
“In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service, we launched the one student one tree project, where 1.2 million Ghanaian students from primary to senior high are going to be engaged in tree planting. They will own the trees, be responsible for the trees and take stock of the trees they have planted after a year.
“The Minister said despite plans made by government to plant 5 million trees tomorrow, some Christian denominations “such as the Church of Pentecost is committed to plant 1 million trees on the day, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana is committed to plant 1 million trees on the day, the Catholic Church of Ghana is committed to plant 1 million trees on the day and the Apostolic Church of Ghana is committed to plant 500,000 trees on the day.
“The Volta River Authority is committed to plant 245,000 trees on the day and the Formed Ghana Movement is committed to plant 136,219 trees on the day,” he added
He charged Ghanaians to come on board to make the planting exercise a success “as the seedlings are going to be distributed to all District Offices of the Forestry Commission, malls and vantage points to make them accessible for pick up and planting.”