World Vision Ghana has trained chiefs, faith leaders, and some assembly members in the West Gonja Municipal in the Savannah region to end unsustainable environmental practices that harm the environment.
The training was to equip stakeholders with the requisite knowledge and skills in environmental management and prepare them adequately to care for and protect forest and land resources and prevent future environmental calamities.
It was also to introduce proven landscape restoration techniques known as Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) principles to communities and farmers through the chiefs, assembly members, and faith leaders in the area.
World Vision Ghana is implementing the European Union funded Landscapes and Environmental Agility across the Nation (LEAN) project in the West Gonja Municipality and Kassena-Nankana West Districts to reverse land degradation, while contributing to national efforts to conserve biodiversity, improve livelihoods and build farmers resilience.
Addressing participants during the training, the LEAN project manager, Joseph Edwin Yelkabong, said chiefs, faith leaders, and assembly members' wielded authority and could influence the adoption of best environmental practices and there was the need to upgrade their knowledge and skills on environmental management.
He said, prolonged drought, cattle grazing, bushfires, and persistent extraction of forest resources such as rosewood and tree felling for charcoal production and wood fuel had reduced vegetation cover and resulted in a loss of biodiversity in the West Gonja area.
This he said affected soil fertility, rainfall patterns, and increased temperatures, and turned the once forested region into a degraded landscape and urged the participants to lead in efforts aimed to reverse this trend by controlling unsustainable environmental practices such as indiscriminate tree felling, charcoal production, and bush burning.
He called on them to support communities to implement environmental by-laws to curb land degradation. 'Let's encourage tree planting, and conservation agriculture practices. All of these form part of the FMNR principles. Utilising the principle will not only restore degraded lands, but help improve soil fertility, increase crop yields and improve household food security and income in the process'.
He said World Vision Ghana through the LEAN Project, was addressing the complex situation through FMNR principles that was easy, effective and less costly as they worked closely with stakeholders to restore 20 degraded parklands in selected communities in the area.
The chief of Bonyanto community, Samuel Kwaga, said, 'The consequences of environmental degradation is dire and therefore, we need to act quickly to prevent our land from becoming a desert'. Citing Sudan and Burkina Faso as example, these countries once were forested areas but bad environmental practices brought desertification.
'Unsustainable logging is increasingly destroying the environment. If this is not controlled, it will have livelihood and environmental consequences for our people in the future', he warned.
He called for collaboration to stop persistent and unsustainable extraction of forest resources that were depleting the vegetation of the area. 'This will bring along dire consequences to the people and our next generation if we do not take immediate action', the chief said.
Fight illegal logging, indiscriminate tree felling, bushfires, and unsustainable environmental practices he said required effective collaboration and commitment from relevant authorities and stakeholders.
As a result, the participants resolved to work together to prevent land and forest degradation and to facilitate and organize relevant stakeholders to meet and hold discussions with the Overlord of Gonjaland Traditional Council to work out modalities to deal with the menace of herdsmen, commercial logging, bushfires, indiscriminate tree felling, charcoal production, and other unsustainable environmental practices.
The Presiding Member for West Gonja Municipal, Mumuni Mohammed, said it was necessary to curb environmental hazards, protect livelihoods and health, and build communities' resilience against the impact of climate change.
That, he said would strengthen the implementation of the Assembly's by-laws on sustainable environmental practices and thanked World Vision Ghana for introducing communities to FMNR principles and promised to support campaigns for adoption and integration of FMNR to farming practices.
The LEAN initiative aims at conserving biodiversity, building climate resilience, reducing emissions from land-use changes in Savanah, High forest, and Transition zones of Ghana, while helping local farmers to improve their livelihoods.
The project is being implemented by a consortium of local and international non-governmental organisations; World Vision Ghana, Rainforest Alliance, Tropenbos Ghana, and Eco Care Ghana.
Source: Ghana News Agency