The West African country of Ghana is known for having rich natural resources including vast tracts of rainforest. However, and very unfortunately, this has been slowly vanishing over the years. Deforestation in Ghana is a fact.
Data from the World Resources Institute showed that Ghana was the country that lost the most tropical primary rainforest in 2018. There was a 60% increase compared to 2017, the highest in the world. Can you believe that the area covered by forests has shrunk five times in 100 years?
What is deforestation?
Deforestation is referred to as follows: “the decrease in forest areas across the world that are lost for other uses such as agricultural croplands, urbanization, or mining activities”. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the annual rate of deforestation to be around 1.3 million km2 per decade.
Timber, cocoa farming and mining are three of the biggest threats in Ghana to this phenomenon. The Forestry Commission of Ghana said that nearly 80% of Ghana’s forest resources under state management had been lost to illegal logging activity since 1990.
So is there anything that is being done to stop or reduce this?
Projects to fight deforestation in Ghana
Fortunately, there is. There has been an initiative launched by The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, during the month of June 2021, called the Green Ghana Program through which five million trees were planted by the citizens in Ghana in just one single day to conserve the depleting forest reserves and combat climate change and deforestation.
There are also other actions being carried out by more private organisations, which is what today from Green Views we would like to shed more light onto because we believe they are excellent initiatives.
The Private Forest Project
Portal Forest, located in Ghana’s Central Region, is a private agricultural enterprise, or said in a simpler way, a private 85-hectare forest owned by one man called Wellington Baiden.
He calls it he’s “green supermarket” and no wonder why because he produces all kinds of products inside this natural paradise. Not only products, but also offers a range of services:
1. Sale of seeds/seedlings
2. Essential Oils Distillery and Natural Beauty Product Manufacturing eg. Citronella, Ylang ylang, Patchouli, etc.
3. Experiential Learning Center
4. Eco Tours/Nature retreat/ Eco Resort
5. Film Studio /Arts Academy
6. Green Design and Construction
7. Gender empowerment Centre
8. Climate change and Forest Research Institute
Forestry is a long term project. Only now, after 20 years, Baiden is finally starting to harvest the trees he planted. One of the keys to sustainability is for the cycle to keep moving and how does he achieve that? By creating shorter term projects (such as the services you see above) which are projects that also benefit the surrounding communities through generation of employment.
Portal Forest Estate is located approximately a 2-3h drive away from Accra (depending on traffic) and you can spend a day in nature, learning about different plants & trees as well as seeing the source of many of the foods we consume on a daily basis with your own eyes. You can find ginger, black pepper, ylang-ylang and much more that will surprise you!
Another great thing to see is the process of essential oil making. You get to see first hand the source from which all essential oil ingredients come from and how they are converted into an oil (which you can then purchase). The fact that they do not use any fertilisers and that everything just comes from Mother Nature, it’s a bit mind-blowing.
One of the main objectives of this forest is to inspire people to see the benefits in sustainable forests, creating what he calls “wealth in perpetuity.” We definitely need more projects like these to ensure the survival of Ghana’s forests and natural environment as a whole.
Another example of sustainable forestry
Looking at a completely different sector, we also find paper making projects in Ghana that are helping shift people’s minds.
Pulp Mulberry paper (Broussonetia Papyrifera) is a handmade paper that comes from a species of plant. Having been brought into the country from China in the 60’s, it began to thrive and became the most serious, invasive, non-indigenous woody plant in the closed forest zone of Ghana. Currently, the Ghanaian Forestry Commission reports “serious damage to the natural environment, local agriculture, and human health and infrastructure”.
Environmental land-managers are seeking ways to contain its robust growth, as it encroaches onto farmland, disrupting local economic activity. However, there are projects like this one, where they are trying to shift people’s minds into showing them that training opportunities could be provided to local people to show them how to harvest this raw material, process pulp, develop skill as papermakers and cultivate capacity in product design and management.
Promoting environmental sustainability
On the other hand, it is promoting environmental sustainability which offers an alternative to plastic consumption. In partnership with the Forestry Commission of Ghana, along with civic and educational leaders, their paper making enterprise aims to offer a productive means of controlling the invasive pulp mulberry plant, reducing carbon emissions by eliminating the current strategy of burning.
These are two very inspirational examples on a private level, about how we can decrease deforestation in Ghana and make better use of what Mother Nature has handed us without destroying it and allowing our future generations to benefit from it too.
Green Views, as our name implies, is committed to going green and supporting any initiative that will fight climate change.