Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Save lives by saving the environment

Ghana yesterday joined the rest of the world to mark World Environment Day.

The day is observed every year on June 5 to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and planet Earth.

Ghana is confronted with serious and complex environmental challenges.

These challenges include waste management, illegal mining, logging and deforestation, as well as noise, water and air pollution.

The operations of illegal small-scale miners have left several acres of land across the country, especially in mining areas, desolate and degraded, leaving in their wake trenches and holes, which have become death traps.

The lands are also polluted, making it unfit for agricultural purposes. Chemicals used for extracting gold, for instance mercury and cyanide, and other complex chemicals are discharged into the soil. 

These have deprived the land of its natural properties.

Nearby rivers and streams that serve as a source of drinking water and used for other domestic purposes for communities downstream suffer massively from pollution.

In the north of the country, the drier, savannah region is creeping down into the greener, forested areas. 

This is a result of logging, bush fires and the broad-scale drying out of the land from inappropriate agricultural practices such as monoculture and over-ploughing.

Overgrazing from livestock and high demand for firewood also means that tree cover is reducing. 

These things combine to create an increasingly barren landscape where the soil cannot hold water or nutrients – this is desertification.

In Ghana today, climate change is bringing new challenges to economic growth and our natural resources. 

This is due to the fact that a significant part of the country’s economic activity is dependent on “climate-sensitive” sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry. 

Ghana’s forest resources are being depleted at an alarming rate.

From the country’s original forest cover of 8.2 million hectares at the beginning of the 20th century, only an estimated 1.6 million hectares remain. 

The deforestation rate is 2.0%, leading to an annual loss of around 135,000 hectares. 

In addition to forest loss, the problem in Ghana is a gradual degradation, which is incremental rather than dramatic. 

Emission data up to around 2,000 indicates that Ghana was a net sink due largely to high levels of carbon sequestration in the land use and the forestry sector. 

The environment is one of the most precious endowments for the present, as well as future generations. 

Its protection should, therefore, be of paramount importance to all citizens. 

Governmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Water Resources Commission, Forestry Commission and district assemblies must be seen to be working. 

They must deliver on their mandate at safeguarding the environmental sanity of our motherland. 

We must act now or be consumed by the negative impacts of environmental challenges.






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