Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Ghana’s Tropical Forest Zone

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The fragmented tropical forest of southwestern Ghana creates a fascinating pattern from space. The dark green patches seen above are reserves set aside early in the 20th century; they are the only significant blocks of forest remaining in the country. Recognizing this priceless ecological heritage, the Ghanaian government has developed policies for sustainable forest management.

In spite of the enormous ecological benefits of the forest and the government's effort to sustainably manage the reserves, shifting cultivation, uncontrolled logging, surface mining, charcoal production, and increasing population place enormous pressure on these remnants of Ghana's tropical forests. In the 1973 image (top left) the vegetation inside and outside the protected areas appears green and robust. In the 2002/2003 (top right), dramatic change is apparent; some of the northern reserves have been decimated and the northern edge of the forest zone has moved south.

Recently, mines have been permitted within some of Ghana's forest reserves. On the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ghana relaxed mining and logging regulations and nurtured investment by the mining and forestry industries through generous incentives during the 1980s and 1990s. Mines like the one within the Afao Hills Forest Reserve pose a serious threat to Ghana's remaining forests.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

UNEP has done a fantastic job of actually showing how much the lack of environmental awareness by African leaders--and in my case Ghanaian leaders--has contributed to severe environmental degradation in the country and the continent as a whole. Let us hope that the frightening satellite images of the destruction of our prestine forests, usually by post-colonial countries with the collusion of greedy politicians, will spur the younger generation into action to protect the little that is left from further destruction.

The young generation must vigorously engage in all efforts to save our precious forests from further degradation by greedy loggers and miner with the knowledge that our entire future as a continent or countires depends on saving our forests. Our failure to halt this madness will perpetually doom us to a catastrophic end we can barely envision. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, so they say!!!