In its national reforestation strategy, Ghana committed in 2016 to restore 2 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030. Seven years ahead of schedule, the West African country is a third of the way there, having put 628,000 hectares under restoration, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based on government data.
Ghana reforested 628,000 hectares of land between 2016 and 2022. This is according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based on Ghanaian government data. The country has thus achieved one third of its target to restore 2 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030.
Ghana’s reforestation efforts are carried out through three models. ‘Forest plantation’, which involves planting young trees in forest reserves for sustainable timber harvesting; ‘Enrichment’, which aims to restore lost biodiversity by planting trees in existing forests that have been degraded, or by planting in areas that did not originally have trees; and the ‘Trees on Farms’ model, which is an agroforestry programme in which farmers plant trees on their own land.
The latter model has formed the bulk of Ghana’s tree planting efforts since 2017, contributing to 520,100 hectares of land being restored between 2017 and 2021, according to the National Forestry Commission. Meanwhile, forest planting accounted for 91,000 hectares and 22,000 for enrichment. The same source says Ghana’s reforestation initiative has significantly boosted employment, generating 98,762 jobs in 2019, 75,379 jobs in 2020 and 80,378 in 2021.
Reported shortcomings on biodiversity
Ghana’s reforestation strategy is limited, however, from a biodiversity perspective. Environmentalists have raised the issue of the types of trees planted, which are mainly non-native hardwood species such as teak. According to Samuel A. Jinapor, Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, more than 5 million of the 26 million seedlings distributed on 10 June 2022, during Green Ghana Day, were teak.
Yet experts say that these species are not conducive to biodiversity. “If you add a non-native tree, like teak, its flowers and fruits will not provide food for our natural biodiversity, which includes insects and birds. That is why it is essential to plant indigenous species,” says Daryl Bosu, the deputy national director of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) A Rocha Ghana.
Apart from the type of tree species planted, the achievements of Ghana’s reforestation policy are threatened by fire and logging. According to the National Forestry Commission’s Annual Report 2021, fires have destroyed about 9,200 hectares of plantations in forest reserves.
And in terms of deforestation, Ghana has experienced a net loss of 573,000 hectares of tree cover between 2000 and 2020, according to Global Forest Watch, an open source web application that monitors the world’s forests in “near real time”.