GNA feature by Samuel Akumatey
Ho, Sept. 04, GNA - People who survive on trading their raw materials must be sure to replenish them.
Data shows that these few decades, the world has consumed more of the earth’s resources, placing the 21st century ahead in environmental depletion way before it was fully born.
When natural resources are “abundant” and easily obtainable, gold rushes often ensures and the resource enclaves quickly blossom with extraction industries that grow aggressive and inconsiderate with market demand.
Inconsideration comes with the profit and affects the replenishing of stock. The frenzy of doing “profitable” business usually ignores all thoughts of preserving the natural environment, and as well causes to trample underfoot all standards and regulations when not strictly enforced.
Inconsideration not only overtakes those directly involved in the “hunting and gathering” of raw materials, it also affects the general populace and inspires a culture of neglect.
Inconsideration well means selfishness, tactlessness, insensitivity, and thoughtlessness, all which fit well with those who fail to regard the natural environment.
Mankind’s response to tree planting
Mankind’s response to the call to plant trees typically signals his intoxication on the drug of inconsideration.
While touring the campus of an agricultural college, I came across a seedling of the mahogany tree, pulled it out and offered it to some colleague reporters to go plant. The response from one in his sixties was “ah, this one I will die before it matures”, and refused the offer even after I asked him to plant the tree for his children.
A much younger colleague would also not have the seedling. I sold him the hint that mahogany was becoming one of the hardest tree species to find and would profit those who looked ahead. Yet he too refused to grasp the concept of helping revive earth’s tree populations.
The encounters set me thinking; is this the generation faced with resource depletion on a global scale? Why would an industrious generation with the largest appetite for natural resources fail to jump at calls to save the natural environment?
Research has concluded that it would be impossible for present mankind to make up for the destruction caused nature.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 18 million acres of forest is lost annually, and that deforestation accounts for 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN also approximates that about half of the world’s tropical forests was cleared, while the University of Maryland concluded in 2016 that the earth lost 73.4 million acres of forest cover.
In August 2019, the world was shocked by the Amazon fires. What is said to hold about 20 per cent of the world’s vegetation cover was up in flames and the world could not hold back tears.
Celebrities across raised alarm, the Brazilian government deployed thousands of troops, and the smoke from the fire smouldered news screens the world over.
Just plant a tree! It is simplest anyone can do to save the earth. It might be too late according to scientific projections, but with focused effort the earth could be placed on a sure path to recovery.
A report published this year by researchers at the ETH University in Zurich, Switzerland in the “Science” journal said planting about one trillion trees could fully mitigate the effects of climate change.
According to the scientists, about 205 billion tonnes of carbon could be captured when degraded forests all over the world had been restored, and would be an effective solution considering the fact that about 300 billion tonnes of carbon were emitted since the industrial revolution.
The study concluded that the world possessed enough suitable land to increase forest covers, and could hold over a trillion trees.
Focusing on Ghana
The Ghana Forestry Commission has said Ghana lost about three percent of its forest cover annually, and would face further depletion unless mining, logging and other human activities were closely regulated.
The Nation is said to have lost over 60 per cent of its forest from 1950s till present, and the Forestry Commission is leveraging on the Modified Taungya System (MTS); a co management system that motivates farmers intercrop timber and food crops.
The Commission believes the system would help maintain the quality of the environment, and provide a sustainable stock to meet timber demands.
High demand trees such as rosewood only created extraction industries with virtually none to replenish it. As a result, trees long known for their quality such as cedar, odum, sapele, wawa, and mahogany are almost gone.
The large shade trees that made unique street avenues and fed nostalgic reminisces are also fast disappearing. People feel disappointed when the scenery of their favourite pasts were gone. For me it’s a fact that none other could play the role of trees.
Importance of trees
Trees not only guarantee drought free climates, but also provide unique environments, and as well help define and preserve identities. They help address the loss of biodiversity and prevent floods and other natural disasters.
No one consciously planted the now-high-on-demand rosewood trees. Not sure our ancestors thought ahead and planted the gallant cedars that famously made the Temple of Earth’s maker in Jerusalem. Yet the present generation must consciously sow back what it aggressively reaped, or there would be none ready for use by the subsequent ones.
Sellers of coconut fruits, for instance, seem not to care about the sustainability of the fruit trees. Like most others who profit from selling tree produce, they seem not to look beyond harvesting produce for sale to save some of the fruits to dry as seeds for posterity.
The development institute is a non-governmental organisation planting trees along the Weta mountain range commonly known as the Akuapem Togoland Fold Mountains to preserve its environment and save the unique species of plants and animals that thrive on it.
“The attitude of most communities towards tree planting is often discouraging… yet they openly supervise illegal logging. This is suicidal”, Mr Joffrey Kinney, Director of the Institute told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a planting exercise along the range to mark World Environment Day.
One of Government’s flagship agricultural programmes has realised the cultivation of cashew; a tree crop, on large scales, with the State supporting growers with free seedlings.
Imagine a policy initiative dedicated to replenishing wood stocks, and receiving same support. Sure it would benefit more- industries etc. in addition to the natural environment, affecting growth in the tourism sector as plant and animal species thrive.
CNN reports that “the Australian government has announced it will plant one billion trees by 2030”.
The news network also reported that China’s “Great Green Wall” anti-desertification programme, since the 1970s planted more than 50 billion trees in an effort to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in 2006, launched the Billion Tree Campaign which had by 2016 planted over 14 billion trees with the support of countries, organisations and individuals.
Some countries attach so much importance to tree planting and have taken some radical steps at reforestation.
Ethiopia treated the world to a massive tree planting exercise in June. It sent tabloids rattling and social media was full of praise for the nation’s leadership which set aside a full day to plant over 350 million trees.
Schools and businesses including; state offices were closed for the exercise. Everyone proudly contributed to an effort they knew would help save the world.
The Philippines pioneered a typical example of an aggressive approach at afforestation aimed at planting over 175 million trees to reclaim its forests which had shrunk to 20 per cent.
The nation passed the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act which required students to plant at least ten trees in order to get a bachelor’s degree.
The University of Science and Technology (UST), Bannu, Pakistan, also requires students to plant at least one tree before they are awarded degrees. The country aims at planting 100 million trees within five years.
Seed balls are the latest tree planting innovation to have resurfaced in recent times. The term resurfaced is used because the technique of seeding balls of earth and broadcasting them dated as far back as ancient Egypt.
It was rediscovered sometime during the Second World War by a Japanese plant scientist who realised that the innovation was effective in ensuring seeds were not invaded by insects, birds and other predators.
A similar initiative in Kenya has distributed over six million seed balls since 2016, and countries such as the United States, Canada, China, Australia, and New Zealand restocked over one million hectares of forests using seed balls.
“Ghana is convinced that its pursuit of climate tangible development can unlock real investment opportunities for the greater good for its sustainable development agenda,” Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said at the opening of an Africa Climate Week (ACW) in Accra.
He said tree planting exercise was key among Government’s efforts at addressing negative climate impact, and engaged about 20,000 individuals to plant some 10 million trees across the country to boost climate resilience.
Helping to correct defects in the natural environment benefits the whole system of life, and conservationists must not grow wary of planting trees. Every such activity should be seen as an opportunity, especially when they have become expensive to undertake.
Individuals, civil society organisations, schools, and other bodies desiring to save the earth must continue to experience the joy in tree planting, and consider the act as adding to the quality of the environment we all share.
So I took my young mahogany plant home and set it in a nursing bag. But hours of carrying it around made it unresponsive to the soil I had set it in, and its two leaves began to wither.
I refused to lose hope because I got it on the occasion of the first anniversary of the demise of Paa Kwesi Amisah Arthur, former Vice President of the Republic. I'm sure he was passionate about the environment because some trees were planted at the library complex his family provided the community of Ohawu in his honour.
My mahogany was from the Ohawu College of Agriculture, and I wanted to give it a forever home also in honour of the late Vice President and also to contribute my fabric to earth’s natural canopy.
One morning a month later, I was greeted with a surprise- what used to be a leaf shoot smaller that a pinhead had morphed overnight into a broad brightly coloured green leaf that kept growing every hour.
My mahogany was up, and the original leaves stopped withering. Two more leaves have budded and the young plant sits cheerfully on the porch awaiting its permanent home where it would help keep earth clean and pure.
Plant a tree. People before you did and you gained its service. You must therefore plant one for those coming after you.
Plant a tree. It shall serve us all.