The Founder and Director of the World Sustainability Organization (WSO), Paolo Bray, has issued an urgent appeal to the government of Ghana to work with traditional authorities to preserve Ghana’s dwindling forests and prevent environmental degradation from threatening the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Natalie Fort of GHOneTV, globally recognized environmental expert Paolo Bray stressed that the role of traditional authorities in protecting natural resources should not be underestimated.
“Agriculture should not only aim to prevent environmental degradation, instead farmers, with the support of traditional authorities, should aim to restore and improve pre-existing habitats, protect existing biodiversity and ‘help to flourish.”
Paolo Bray further considered that this should be applied also in the fishing sector, the objective being not only to protect fish stocks from overexploitation, but rather to promote the creation of more marine protected areas.
Ghana’s rapid deforestation has been driven by agricultural expansion (largely for cocoa), timber harvesting for energy, population growth, gold mining, and timber lobbies. Ineffective and poor management of forest resources has led over the years to overexploitation; resulting in degraded forests that are more susceptible to wildfires and floods.
Since the early 1990s, Ghana has lost over 30% of its forests, which now cover 21% of the country. With a remarkable 80% of Ghanaians depending on forests for their livelihoods, deforestation has a major impact on communities, hence the need to urgently address the threat. Paolo Bray said: “Traditional leaders have the power to institute control mechanisms, to regulate human activities vis-à-vis the environment. They must be empowered by the government to use their indigenous ecological knowledge to conserve and protect the environmental resources within their jurisdiction.
“Collaboration between traditional and political leaders is the only sustainable solution to prevent environmental degradation in Ghana,” he added.
The World Sustainability Organization is a global organization whose main objective is the conservation of ecosystems, aiming to protect critical habitats and globally threatened species, through sustainability certifications – Friend of the Sea and Friend of the Earth and related conservation and awareness projects, it is headquartered in Italy.