The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Samuel Afari Dartey, has admonished students, pupils and youth groups of Anyinam and its environs to engage in tree planting and nurturing, conservation and all activities which help to protect and enhance forests in Ghana.
He said that in a statement read on his behalf by Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah, the Executive Director of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, when the Climate Change Unit of the Forestry Commission launched the Regional “REDD Eye” Campaign at Anyinam in the Eastern Region. Under the theme “Promoting Youth Awareness and Involvement in REDD Actions”, the REDD EYE campaign is a move to stimulate the active involvement of the Ghanaian youth in the forest stewardship and restoration under the international mechanism Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). It is a mechanism which will incentivise forest rich developing countries to undertake actions and measures that reduce emissions from the forestry sector.
Mr. Afari Dartey stressed on the need to protect all forests, citing the example of the big role that the Atewa Forest plays in the supply of potable water to the people of Accra and its environs. “. Three important rivers in Ghana, that is Densu, Ayensu and Birim originate from the Atewa Forest Reserve. These are the three major sources of domestic and industrial water for more than 5 million Ghanaians residing in the Eastern and Greater Accra Regions and its environs”, he said.
He expressed worry about the fact that despite the very important role the Atewa Forest Reserve plays in Ghana, it has come under severe threats from many illegal activities like logging and mining and very soon, if care is not taken potable water supply will be highly challenged.
Mr Afari Dartey stressed on the need to involve the youth in REDD+ activities in that “We have come to a firm conclusion that the active involvement of our vibrant young men and women is crucial if we wish to be successful in our efforts towards protecting and conserving our forest resources,” he concluded.
Supporting the argument presented early on by Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, Mr. Yaw Kwakye, the Head of the Climate Change Unit of the Forestry Commission, enumerated the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation citing unsustainable agricultural practices, timber extraction , fuelwood collection, wildfires, expansion in settlements , among others.
Mr. Kwakye said Ghanaians must see it as their civic responsibility to care for the environment. Citizens should not stand aloof and “Watch our rich forest lands that have given us shelter from strong winds laid waste through illegal chainsaw activities; our rivers and streams heavily polluted as a result of illegal mining; our wildlife hunted to extinction without any regard for laws of the land”, he lamented.
He stated emphatically that the campaign is not a nine-day wonder and as long as wanton destruction of forests persist, the Climate Change Unit will continue to engage with the youth so they have a sense of belongingness to the whole campaign and help change their attitude and that of others. There will be a lot of ativities throughout the country to sensitise various categories of youth to keep up their interest on the need to plant, nurture and protect forests.
In a welcome address, the Eastern Regional Manager of the Forest Services Division, Mr. Attah Owusu urged the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to add environmental studies as a compulsory examinable course to the educational curriculum, right from the primary school to the senior high school level. That he said will ensure that pupils grow up with environmental consciousness and that would help in the conservation of the environment.
After enumerating the drivers and effects of climate change on the entire country, Mr. Attah Owusu admonished the youth to encourage people to desist from destroying the forests and use energy efficient stoves and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of fuelwood. He further mentioned that busfires release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes global warming and eventually climate change. He advised the youth to plant and nurture more trees to green the environment to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
There were solidarity messages from a representative of the Eastern Regional Minister, Mrs. Mavis Ama Gati; the Member of Parliament for Atiwa East and the Ghana Cocoa Board. The chiefs of the Atiwa Traditional Area graced the occasion with their rich culture amidst dancing and drumming.
Before the launch, there was a procession through the principal streets of Anyinam , with placard-bearing students and pupils dancing to brass band music, while conveying forests conservation, REDD+ and attitudinal change messages to the public.
Okyeame Kwame, an artiste, who is also an ambassador for REDD+, sang some songs composed purposely for the Campaign, much to the excitement of the teeming youth. Chanting “Wanna eye REDD, Save our Forests”, the youth danced to the melodious tunes by Okyeame Kwame.