The Ghana Millennium Development Goals 2015 report by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) indicates that the depletion of the country’s forest cover continues at an alarming rate.
According to the report, Ghana has a total forest area of 9.2 million hectares made up of 1.79 million hectares of close forest and 7.4 million hectares of open forest.
It said Ghana lost 2.51 million hectares (or 33.70 per cent) of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010, representing a 2.03 per cent average annual loss over the period.
The report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday by the NDPC, observed that the rate of deforestation dropped marginally from 1.99 per cent in 1990-2000 to 1.97 per cent in 2000-2005, and subsequently rose significantly to 2.19 per cent in 2005-2010.
It said the estimated annual average deforestation rate for 2011 and 2012 was estimated at 1.37 per cent; meanwhile, the afforestation effort through tree planting had been very slow.
It noted that in 1990, about 50,000 hectares were recorded, representing 0.7 per cent of total forest cover and this increased to 60,000 hectares or 1.0 per cent of total forest cover in 2000.
It said the country stepped up the afforestation effort to record 160,000 hectares in 2005 and 260,000 hectares in 2010.
The report stated that this translated into an annual average increase in planted forest from 1.84 per cent in 1990-2000 to 21.7 per cent in 2000-2005 and 10.2 per cent in 2005-2010.
It indicated that a number of interventions had been carried out to slow down the rate of deforestation and eventually reverse it.
These include establishment of 168,910 hectares of forest plantation, mainly within degraded forest reserves, under the National Forest Plantation Development Programme 2002-2012.
It recommended operations of a Rapid Response Unit to stem the rampant encroachment of forest reserves and protected areas, as well as to addressing illegal logging, mining and settlement.
Others are ensuring compliance with regulations and laws that protect Ghana’s natural resources; and the passage of resource regulations 2012-2014, as part of efforts to enable implementation of Legality Assurance System; and building capacity for monitoring and assessment of environment degradation costs.
According the report, some of the specific challenges to fighting deforestation and degradation are weak enforcement of laws and regulations of forestry, wildlife and other natural resources.
It mentioned excessive logging, unsustainable agricultural practices, bushfires, cutting of fuelwood, mining and quarrying; and increasing demand for forestry products due to population growth and urbanization.