Madam Paulina Patience Abayage, the Upper East Regional Minister, at the weekend inaugurated the Greening Northern Ghana (GNG) Project in the Region.
The GNG is a registered voluntary environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) set up by like-minded individuals of northern descent and others from outside the north who ascribe to the ideals of the project.
The aim of the project is to ensure that about 25million trees are grown in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Savannah and North East Regions of the country.
Speaking on the theme: “Towards a Green Northern Ghana: A must, not a choice,” Madam Abayage said the project had grass growing component meant to add value to grasses so as to make bush burning unattractive.
She observed that bush fires in the past had been widespread in the region.
“Our local people particularly farmers, charcoal burners, hunters and honey tapers have busied themselves with the starting of bushfires as a survival strategy.”
“As a result, the already minimal vegetation cover has been destroyed and the land severely degraded leading to desertification,” she added.
Madam Abayage noted that these situations had wreaked havoc on the soils of the area with the consequences being soil erosion, reduced soil fertility and low crop yields.
She said farm produce gathered or yet to be gathered were lost to bush-fires, which had exacerbated local food crisis, hunger and other socio-economic problems, “Loss of human lives, homes, property and livestock to bushfires are not uncommon sometimes.”
“It is in the light of this that I recognize this project as most timely and a step in the right direction. I wish to use this opportunity to urge our people to eschew all forms of activities that destroy our natural environment.”
The Minister said the desert was indeed fast approaching and called on members of the public to embrace the project to enable it realize its objective.
Madam Abayage who is a former Ambassador to Italy, said government through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was embarking on tree planting under the Sustainable Lands and Water Management Project in the Northern Regions of Ghana.
Alhaj Abdallah Otito Achuliwor, the Chairman of the GNG indicated that executives of the GNG would visit all educational institutions from the basic to tertiary level in the five regions to form GNG clubs.
He said the clubs would be charged with tree planting responsibilities on their various campuses, and ensure that the trees survived.
Alhaj Achuliwor said membership of the GNG Association was opened to all members of the public, and called on individuals to join the group.
Mr Boniface Gambila, Chairman of the Local Planning Committee of the GNG said the group was founded in good faith and members firmly believed that their culture was derivative of the natural resources God had created for them.
“The corner stone of our cultures is a deep sense of interconnectedness with the natural environment of which we are as much as part of the landscape as we are dependent upon the earth’s natural resources to survive.”
Mr Gambila who is former Member of Parliament for the Nabdam Constituency said the GNG members had volunteered to fight all forms of abuses on Northern Ghana lands.
“We shall protect all plant habitats of the said northern land, and that we shall do no damage to plants or grasses. In fact, we shall protect and promote all greenings on this land,” he added.
Some prominent citizens of northern descent who are part of the GNG group include Professor David Millar, Principal of the Millar Open University, Reverend Professor Saah Dittoh, and Professor Hellen Yitah among others