The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has urged Ghanaian citizens to own to be guardians of the trees they plant during every Green Ghana Day commemoration in order to secure a greener and brighter future for posterity.
According to him, the tree planting exercise dubbed “Green Ghana Day’’ symbolises an investment in the collective future of all, a reason for all to accept and become custodians of the tress to safeguard a greener future.
“Through our collective efforts, we can ensure that Ghana achieves the purpose of the Green Ghana Day exercise, and secure a greener and brighter future for generations to come,” he said.
“Planting trees is not merely an ecological gesture; it is a profound act of love and responsibility toward our nation and health,” he stated.
Mr Bagbin who made the call at the forecourts of Parliament House where he led legislators and staff of the Parliamentary Service to observe the day said citizens have a responsibility to visit the trees planted and nurture them regularly as they grow into majestic symbols of “hope, resilience, and sustainable development”.
He indicated the theme for the 2023 Green Ghana Day “Our Forests, Our Health,” underscored the critical need to preserve forests and vegetation for the well-being of humanity stating that forests, the lush lungs of our planet, played an irreplaceable role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“They act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide and replenishing our atmosphere with oxygen, ensuring that the air we breathe remains pure and invigorating. “It is important that we recognize the immense value of these ecosystems and take proactive measures to restore and conserve them,” he said.
Mr Alban Bagbin who is Ghana’s longing serving MP until become the Speaker in 2021 noted the legislature is an important figure through its legislative function in safeguarding livelihoods and the environment and mentioned the Forest Protection (Amendment) Act of 2002, Act 264 as one such ligislation for safeguarding the environment and promoting sustainable forestry practices.
He expressed disappointment in the fact that Ghana’s once thriving rainforests cover has witnessed significant decline over the years making the country now ranked among the tropical nations with the highest percentage of deforestation.
The speaker disclosed that an 8.2 million hectares of forest cover in 1900 had dwindled to a mere 1.6 million hectares currently.
“This distressing trend highlights the environmental degradation caused by various factors, including informal small-scale gold mining and uncontrolled tree felling without the commensurate reforestation efforts.
“The goal of halting deforestation and restoring our forests, as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, will be unattainable if we persist in our current attitude toward the forest cover we have,” he lamented.
Acting Greater Accra Regional Manager of the Forest Commission, Mr George Agbenowoshi said the tree planting exercise was aimed at creating awareness about the importance of forests and enhancing biodiversity on the environment as well as protecting the environment.
He disclosed that a total of 850,000 trees would be planted in the Greater Accra region and appealed the lawmakers to support the works of the FC to address issues of illegal mining in their respective constituencies.
Acting Clerk to Parliament, Mr Ebenezer Djietror commended the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources for the initiative which had the support of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Speaker of Parliament in restoring the forest reserves nationwide.
In all, the legislature is expected to plant a total of 300 different species of trees in addition to the previous 400 planted in 2022 and 2023.
The trees were planted by the Speaker, the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah Amoako; the Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah; the acting Clerk to Parliament, Ebenezer Djietror.
Chairman of the Environment, Science Technology and Innovation Cpommittee and MP for Oforikrom, Dr Emmanuel Marfo, planted a tree on behalf of the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, with acting Greater Accra Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission (FC), George Agbenowoshi, planting a tree on behalf of the FC.