Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, the Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said 40 more operational offices will be established at environmental sensitive hotspots across the country to halt infractions and protect plants, animals and water bodies.
Environmental and climate sensitive areas are forests and reserves with unique reptiles, birds, butterflies, and a variety of tropical trees and plants, which play significant roles in the sustenance of life.
However, activities including illegal small-scale mining and logging, farming, real estate development, and indiscriminate bush burning are threatening their survival.
The operational offices would, therefore, extend the EPA’s sensitisation to the public on the importance to protect these hotspots to promote air quality and protect biodiversity.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Monday, Dr Kokofu said of the 216 districts in Ghana the EPA had presence in only about 50, a situation that affected the discharge of its mandate.
The mandate includes applying the legal processes in a fair and equitable manner to ensure responsible environmental behaviour and stamp out nature offenses.
The Agency had been tasked to co-manage, protect and enhance the country’s environment and help find common solutions to global environmental problems.
“This can be achieved, inter alia, through research, scientific, technological and innovative approaches, good governance and partnerships,” he said.
“Two years ago, our staff strength was about 380. With the intervention of the Government, it has increased to 720 with offices in all the regions.”
“However, with the volume of work, which includes monitoring of mining companies and industries for compliance and leading the implementation of climate change’s Nationally Determined Contributions, we need more hands”.
Highlighting some recent reforms at the Agency, Dr Kokofu said the EPA had identified many organisations and groups and trained them on best environmentally sustainable practices, while regulating their activities.
For instance, he said, the Agency had worked with the Ghana Education Service to equip teachers with knowledge on climate change and related topics to impart it to pupils and students up to the pre-tertiary level.
Dr Kokofu said early and timely exposure of children, especially girls, to climate change and its impacts could entice them to opt for science, technology, mathematics and engineering programmes to innovate simple technologies to address challenges affecting them.
He said the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and the EPA were looking for partners to bring climate change and green economy literacy to secondary education.
That would also ensure teacher training institutions strengthened climate change and green economy issues in the standard training programme for teachers.