Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), has underscored the need for an attitudinal change to preserve the nation’s forest and natural vegetation to benefit posterity.
He said the importance of the forest to human life must propel citizens to take pragmatic steps to manage and safeguard the forest reserves.
Prof. Asare-Bediako was speaking at the observation of International Day of Forests organised by the Department of Forest Science in collaboration with the Natural Resources Students Association of the University in Sunyani.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Forest and Sustainable Production and Consumption.”
Besides students and lecturers at the School of Natural Resources, students of the Seventh Day Adventist Senior High School (SHS), Sunyani Notre Dame SHS, Fiapre and Odumaseman SHS at Odumase attended the programme.
He touched on government interventions such as the Green Ghana Project, Youth in Afforestation, Forest Investment Programme and others designed to lure citizens to plant more trees across the country, saying “let’s prepare ourselves to replenish the degraded forest by planting more trees”.
“Plans are far advanced as an institution to partner the Bono Regional Coordinating Council for the Greening Bono Agenda because UENR being a key institution in the region ought to make its impact felt not only in Sunyani but across the region,” Prof. Asare-Bediako said.
He appealed to the general public to grow more economic trees, saying, “it is important to replace a tree if it is not serving the right purpose with an economic tree that can produce a lot of benefits”.
Mr Godwin Agyemang, the Mankranso District Manager of Forestry Services Division, in a presentation, said forest contributed immensely to poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security.
“It is, therefore, imperative to manage our forest in terms of continuity of its exploitation of the forest resources for the current generation to benefit and generation yet unborn to derive its benefits”.
Mr Agyemang said Ghana’s forests over the years had been threatened with human activities such as overgrazing by animals, chain saw and lumbering, illegal mining and shifting cultivation, adopted by some farmers who encroached forest reserves in search of fertile lands to farm.
He stated Ghana’s forest cover as of 1900 was estimated at 8.2 million hectares but it was now left with 1.8 million hectares because of over degradation of the land.
“So we are not saying agriculture is not useful, but farmers should balance agriculture and forestry,” Mr Agyemang said.
In a welcoming address, Dr Daniel Akoto Sarfo, the Head of the Department of Forest Science, said since creation mankind’s duties had been to shape the forest, but over the years human activities had impacted negatively on the forest reserves and natural resources.