Government has been urged to scale up approaches of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) to support national re-greening strategies to address forest and landscape degradation and mitigate climate change impacts.
Stakeholders at an engagement at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region said the initiative had the potential of restoring tree and vegetation cover, degraded lands and forest reserves, thereby addressing climate change impacts, and improving sustainable agriculture production to attain food and nutritional security.
The engagement was organised by Forum for Natural Regeneration (FONAR), a Non-Governmental Organisation in collaboration with World Vision Ghana with funding from Tony Rinaudo, an Australian and father of FMNR and his brother Peter Rinaudo.
Mr Samuel Abasiba, World Vision Ghana FMNR project Manager at Sirigu, noted that statistics had revealed Ghana had lost about 40 per cent of its forest reserves and was the third-fastest forest depletion nation globally just behind Togo and Nigeria.
He said the impact of deforestation and land degradation through human activities including the felling of trees for fuel wood, mining, agriculture, and construction purposes among others had significantly impacted the economy and livelihoods of the people.
Mr Abasiba said apart from causing erratic rainfall leading to drought and floods, climate change was posing a serious threat to food production and food security and there was the need to scale up FMNR to augment other re-greening strategies to address the initiative.
Citing the Talensi District as an example, Mr Abasiba noted that through FMNR implemented by World Vision Ghana between 2009 and 2019, about 750 hectares of degraded farmlands had been restored and called on all stakeholders to scale up the initiative to address environmental challenges.
Mr Sumaila Saaka, Executive Director, FONAR, said statistics had shown that about 80 per cent of the total area in the Upper East Region had suffered from moderate to severe land degradation and about 16 hectares of tree cover in the region had been lost from 2001 to 2020.
He noted that although tree planting was a good initiative for re-greening the environment, FMNR was a cheaper approach.
“This year we are talking about spending GH₵12 million in the Green Ghana initiative, but if we were to use this money to do serious re-greening through the FMNR approach, probably we could re-green the whole of Ghana,” he said.
Mr Saaka underscored the need for agroforestry and agriculture policies to be harmonised while incorporating FMNR strategy to ensure that apart from restoring the ecological system, best agriculture practices could be imparted onto the farmers to increase crop yields.
He said “the government need to make FMNR part of our national re-greening strategies because it is farmer-led and this will help address food insecurity and climate change”.
Mr Atintan Azumah, Bolgatanga Assistant District Manager, Forestry Commission, said the destruction of the landscape and forest reserves was impacting negatively on the climatic condition and there was the need to adopt varying strategies including FMNR to restore the degradation.
FMNR is an easy and low-cost land and forest restoration technique used to increase the number of trees in the field without necessary planting new trees but through the protection and management of existing trees and shrubs regenerated naturally from tree rootstocks, stumps and dispersed seeds by animals.
It is used to sustainably combat poverty and hunger among poor subsistence farmers by increasing food and timber production and resilience to climate change.