Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has said the importance of the forest to humanity should not be underestimated but rather be cherished and preserved for the sustenance of humanity.
“The forests are oxygen generating machines, producing the oxygen that we breath in, the forests are also our pharmacy and we get a lot of our drugs from them, the forests are also our super markets so we need to preserve them,” Prof Frimpong-Boateng said during a side-event organised alongside the just ended UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP23) held in Bonn, Germany.
The event was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, where the countries showcased their readiness towards reducing deforestation as part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse emission.
The event was also used to launch the next level of the countries’ “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programmes being implemented in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda in collaboration with the UNDP, to help preserve the forest sector in the three countries.
Situational reports by the representatives of the three countries painted a gloomy picture of the forest sectors in the countries, with only 10 per cent of Nigeria’s forest said to remain intact.
Nigeria was also noted as one of the countries having the highest deforestation in the world.
Ghana’s forest sector was also noted to be taking over by mining activities, illegal timber logging and cocoa cultivation.
Uganda’s forest sector was said to face similar challenges with it forest taking over by agriculture production, infrastructure development and mining.
The UNDP is therefore assisting the countries to put various measures in place to preserve the few remaining virgin forests in the countries, while recovering the lost ones through regenerating them under the REDD+ initiative.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng, who together with Mr John Peter Amewu, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, participated in a panel discussions at event, noted that the forest continue to serve humanity’s survival on earth in so many ways, and therefore the need for Africa to do all it could to preserve its forests.
He said for instance, scientists continue to discover many templates for the manufacture of medicine and drugs, including those that reduces blood pressure, through the studying of a snake like the viper and plants species that could only be found in the forests.
“What I’m saying is that the forests are very important and the interesting thing is that a small area of the forest can represent or can accommodate very important species. So if a forest is degraded, you may not be aware of the species that goes with that forest. This is very important”, he emphasized.
He noted that Ghana was trying hard to maintain its virgin forests, because even when a lost forest was regenerated or replanted, it loses certain species.
“That is why our President formed this taskforce to preserve the forest of Ghana and to stop illegal mining and also to preserve our sources of water”.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng also commended the UNDP collaboration to help countries, including Ghana to preserve their forests, through such healthy partnerships.
Mr Amewu noted that the REDD+ strategy was a partial index within the global arrangements of Ghana, as a country to address emissions control.
“We have done a lot of programmes and actions over the period. The situation for our country Ghana is how do we begin to concentrate as a portion on a major strategy of our REDD+ agreement to begin to move from the southern part of the country to the northern zone,” he said..
He reiterated the Government’s commitment towards preventing deforestation and forest degradation, as well as to promote reforestation, and forest protection activities.
Mr Amewu said Ghana was ready to attract and source for funds to roll out a shea butter plantation programme in the northern regions to resolve or minimise the issues of climate change as a result of deforestation.
Mr Magdy Martinez-Soliman, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, commended the three countries for playing a lead role in afforestation, but admitted that “they had lost a significant chunk of their forestry sector”.
He urged the countries to have a strong policy and programmes and also have the will to implement them so they could quickly address the issues of deforestation eating up the countries.
The UNDP, with support from the Italian Government, was partnering with the Ghana Forestry Commission to develop a project proposal entitled the ‘Ghana Shea Landscape REDD+ project’ to seek funding from the Green Climate Fund.
The project would focus on the three northern regions, which were fast losing their highly valuable and diverse savanna woodland species.
The project is expected to contribute to achieving Ghana’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, and also, constitute a breakthrough in the shea sector, by stimulating private sector investments, research and better public services
COP23, which ended on Friday November 17 and it was hosted together by the Republic of Fiji and the German Government, attracted over 25,000 visitors.
From 6-17 November, thousands of government delegates, negotiators, parties and leaders from all sectors of society gathered in Bonn, located within the Westphilian part of Germany under the Presidency of Fiji, to discuss how to make progress for a successful, inclusive and ambitious implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
This included negotiations on the implementation guidelines for transparent climate action under the Paris Agreement, as well as showcasing cooperative climate action, including on vulnerability and resilience, from around the globe.
The Paris Agreement was established at COP21, held in Paris in 2015, where the parties negotiated what was known as the “Paris Agreement”, which established specific actions and targets for reducing greenhouse gases emissions, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, and financing mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries.