Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday appealed to Ghanaians to protect wildlife and conserve biodiversity in order to live in harmony with nature for sustainable development.
He said man’s insatiable desire to exploit all species have resulted in the disruption of the natural balance of life leading to environmental degradation.
Dr Kokofu said wildlife contribute immeasurable to an effective and sustainable ecosystem services of the forest.
He said wildlife contributes to the provision of food, fodder, raw materials for shelter and industry, medicinal plants, soil, climate regulation and livelihood for many rural communities.
The EPA Executive Director made the remarks at Tema in solidarity with the commemoration of World Wildlife Day 2021 on the theme: “Forest and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”.
He said the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact negatively on human health, livelihoods, education, and all sectors of the economy.
“Indeed our lifestyles as a whole and if we have learnt nothing at all, we have, at least, learnt the relevance of letting nature to be protected through effective conservation measures,” he said.
He explained that the changes were in the way land resources were use, expanded and intensified agriculture, engaged in unsustainable trade, production and consumption of wildlife and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people generally.
Dr Kokofu said “if the risk of pandemics were to be lowered, we must reduce human activities that drive the loss of biodiversity, we must conserve our protected areas better, and institute measures that reduce unsustainable exploitation of high biodiversity regions”.
He recommended that other wildlife sites emulates the biosphere reserve approach in more protected areas such as the Kyabobo National Park in the Volta Region to ensure optimal community support for natural resource management.
He said the remnants and memories of the pandemic, “should illuminate a greater path to our stewardship of the forest and protected areas, our empathy to the dependent population”.
The EPA Executive Director called for a strengthened collaboration between the EPA and Forestry Commission in line with its effort to ensure co-management of natural resources.
He identified area for collaboration including forest and wildlife protection, and facilitate programmes geared towards sustainable community livelihoods as an incentive for enhanced community participation in the management of forests in and around protected areas.
Dr Kokofu said such collaboration, would led to initiatives such as the Sustainable Land and Water Management Project, which trained and resourced 2,500 individuals in local communities in Northern Savannah Zone through the establishment of six Community Resource Management Areas within the Western Wildlife Corridor.
He mentioned the ‘Man and the Biosphere Programme’ under which nearly 800 persons were trained and resourced to start biodiversity-friendly businesses as an incentive to support sustainable resource management in the Bia Conservation Area, Songor Ramsar Site and Lake Bosomtwe, with a combined population of nearly 400,000.