AS a countrywewere rich in green vegetation about four decades ago. At that time, the country was a net exporter of timber. Indeed apart from cocoa and gold, timber fetched us the highest amount in foreign exchange.
UNFORTUNATELY, the country’s forest cover has reduced through our actions, inaction and natural disasters such as drought. For instance in 1983, Ghana suffered a severe drought that brought in its wake widespread bushfires that destroyed the country’s forest cover.
WE used to relish the role timber played in the local economy of the forest belts of the Western, Eastern, Ashanti, Central, Bono and Volta regions.
IN Kumasi, for instance, the timber companies helped to boost the economy of the Garden City of West Africa. Today, all the timber companies are nowhere near the glorious days when they provided employment for the teeming youth of the Ashanti Region and beyond.
THE collapse of the timber industry is cited as one of the reasons for the slow nature of business activities in the twin city of Sekondi/Takoradi and the poor state of the Takoradi Harbour.
PRESENTLY, the country’s climate has altered, as it has become difficult for weather forecasters to forecast rainfall for agricultural purposes and other human endeavours. Climate change has affected the vegetation, the rainfall pattern and agricultural productivity.
ALREADY there is talk that Ghana must resort to the importation of wood on a larger scale in order to safeguard our forests and provide raw materials for the construction industry.
THE destruction of the vegetation will not only affect logging and wood for furniture and other construction work; it will also affect the flora and fauna, thereby disturbing the people’s very existence on earth.
WE are aware the government has not been sleeping over these frightening developments, as task forces have been put in place across the length and breadth of the country to check the activities of illegal loggers and chainsaw operators.
HOWEVER, we think these task forces have not been effective and, on occasions when they have tried to assert themselves, some powerful forces have interfered with their operations.
DEAFORESTATION is real and the solution to it, as demonstrated by even Sahelian states such as Burkina Faso, is the recourse to afforestation.
WE applaud efforts by the government to reverse the situation, but we can improve the situation if we adopt a more vigorous approach to tree planting throughout the country.