The Ministry of Finance has allocated GH¢144million over the next two-years to fund the ‘Greening Ghana’ initiative aimed at engaging 15,000 youth for the tree planting project under the Youth in Agriculture and Afforestation Module.
The Greening Ghana programme is an initiative being spearheaded by Forestry Commission and is targetted at making Ghana green within the next 10 years through planting trees at public places: including major roadsides, schools, hospitals, hotels, churchyards and around water-bodies. The programme is also in line with government’s job creation agenda and commitment to solving the unemployment situation in the country.
Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie-Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, speaking to journalists after a visit to the Achimota Nursery Site to see the progress of work said: “By the next 10 years, we will ensure that Ghana is green again. In some places, when you touch down you see that the entire country is green with trees; we want to replicate that in Ghana”.
He explained that the Ministry of Finance has allocated GH¢6million a month to pay allowances for the 15,000 youth engaged by the Commission – which is ready for disbursement.
As part of the project, which has been oversubscribed with more than 33,000 youth applying, personnel of the programme will be trained and equipped to, among others, carry out forestry plantation establishment, maintain existing forest plantations, Coppice management and enrichment plantation, he said.
Mr. Afriyie indicated that the Forest Service Division has also begun implementation of the modified Tanya System under the National Forest Plantation Development Programme, which has since engaged over 10,000 farmers across the country and an estimated 4,000 hectares of forest plantations have been established within degraded forest reserves.
The Forestry Commission and the Youth Employment Agency, in November last year, signed a service agreement to engage 15,000 youth across the country to implement a Forest Plantation Programme.
The programme, under the Youth in Agriculture and Afforestation Module, is to enable the youth contribute to environmental and forest protection in the country.
Mr. Afriyie said the enthusiasm exhibited shows “the young men and women of this country are desirous of getting some employment”.
He indicated that the planting programme should begin by June, under which graduate personnel will receive GH¢1,200 while diploma and non-graduates receive GH¢800 and GH¢400 respectively.
He said the Commission had since met district and regional officers to ensure the programme’s success.
“We are going to schools, hospitals, dam-sites – and wherever we can find that needs trees planted, we will do so,” he said.
As a start, Mr. Afriyie said the Commission has identified some places in Accra where the tree planting project will begin.
He indicated that institutions such as West African Secondary School, Pantang Hospital, and Prampram Senior High School had all given the Commission acres of land to plant trees. Other areas include the Weija Dam site and Achimota Forest Reserve.
As part of the programme, the Commission will cultivate some 400 trees per hectare, many of which will be commercial trees for industry.
Data from the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020, a global public-private partnership in which partners aim to reduce tropical deforestation, show that the country’s forest cover has dwindled from a high of 8.4million hectares as at 1900 to a low of 1.8million hectares currently.
It added that between 1990 and 2000 Ghana lost an average of 135,000 hectares per annum, while the current deforestation rate is estimated to be around 3.2 percent per annum.
Edith Ansah, the Regional Manager, Greater Accra Region for the plantation project who took journalists round the Achimota Nursery Site, said with introduction of the programme the nursery has been expanded to nurse over 250,000 seedlings by end of the year. Already, some 120,000 seedlings have been nursed.
She noted that currently some 15 species of plants have been nursed to kick-start the project, employing about 652 youth engaged in the project.