Accra is the 492nd most air polluted city out of about 10,000 cities in the world according to the 2021 IQAir report? Greater Accra Accra is around 15% of that of the whole country, ambient air pollution burden estimates approximate 1700 deaths annually (World Health Organization, 2021). But can you pay for quality air to breathe?
Oxygen supply to a nine-week-baby was cut by a doctor at St. Gregory Hospital in Kasoa in the Central Region of Ghana over the child’s parents’ inability to pay GHC533.00 ($120.32). The child, Prosper, died subsequently (Ghanaweb.com, 2018). The average human breathes 2,000L to 3000L of oxygen per day. The cost of a 3000L oxygen generator ranges from $20,000 – $100,000. If you are 20 yrs, It means you have used 18,000,000L of oxygen. Have you realised your oxygen debt if you were even charged $0.1/L of oxygen?
Do you know, without the free atmospheric oxygen from plants, you will not be alive to give that energy to your career and aspirations? But have you ever planted a tree to serve as your oxygen generator since you were born?
The world lost 15% of its valuable economic trees between 1985 and 2015 (FAO, 2012). The current rate of tree degradation in Ghana is approximately 2% of 22000ha/annum. The effect of tree depletion outside the forest could be widespread. Besides its effect on biodiversity, ecological processes, and environmental functions; it may have negative effects on other species and human populations (Mullick, et al; 2007). Ghana was the global leader by percentage in deforestation – 60% tree loss from 2017 to 2018 (Global Forest Watch, 2020). It is in light of this high-level deforestation from mining activities that the European Union threatened to ban cocoa from Ghana.
Trees are needed to create resilient urban forestry to replenish atmospheric oxygen, mitigate climate change, promote health and well-being, and also serve as food. It is quite unfortunate that most tree planting exercises that have taken place in Ghana fail. This is because they encounter methodical flaws and partisan political tensions.
The Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) is a youth-led and gender-balanced organisation in Accra, Ghana. GAYO initiated the Trees4Biodiversity Project with the aim to create resilient urban forestry to mitigate climate change, enhance sustainable cities and communities, protect and promote indigenous seedlings.
The Trees for Biodiversity Project was carried out in partnership with the La Nkwantanang Madina Municipal Assembly, the Forestry Commission of Ghana, One Tree Planted, and the Ghana Physiotherapy Association. The supporting organisations were Anajie Foundation, Karissa Foundation, Goshen Global Vision, and Team 54 Project.
The project employed a bottom-up approach and indigenous seedlings were sourced from community nurseries and grassroots CSOs. Stakeholders were consulted and questioned on indigenous seedlings they wish they had at their houses. After consultation with agronomy experts, the listed seedlings were distributed to the individuals through the assembly members. Some seedlings were planted in the township with planting intervals of 3m and 6m using stakeholders’ and volunteers’ effort. The goal is to plant and sustain 30,000 tree seedlings within a 7 years timeline.
On Saturday, 24th July 2021, the initiative was climaxed with an inaugural planting and distribution of 4600 tree seedlings at Danfa, Kweimang, Madina Municipal Assembly, and the Madina community within the La Nkwantanang Madina Municipal Assembly. The seedlings included; prekese (Tetrapleura tetraptera), Parkia biglobosa, tangerine, royal palm, jumbo guava, African teak, Terminalia, avocado, leucenia, rain plant, and lemon. orange, ackee apple, coconut,
The trees are being monitored to ascertain the validity of the down-up approach used in this project. Trees4Biodiversity Project is a youth-led and stakeholders-inclusive approach to revive indigenous trees to create resilient communities and mitigate climate change. With the current global climate crisis, planting a tree today is a very important investment into the future.
In Conclusion, you should always bear in mind that “when the last tree is cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money!”
Desmond Alugnoa: Co-founder Green Africa Youth Organization
Kwasi Boadu Ntiamoah: Trees for Biodiversity Project Coordinator