The survival of indigenous and native trees in Ghana is being jeopardised by an increase in the felling of trees in the Savannah Ecological Zone. Among these are dawadawa, baobab, shea, bombax, marula, lanea, and Jujube.
Indigenous and native trees help to preserve the unique landscape and give each location its own vegetative character. The tree species provide numerous economic and medicinal benefits to communities, thus significantly contributing to forest biodiversity.
Charcoal processors in the Savannah, North East, and Upper West Regions which form part of the Savanna Ecological Zone are felling these climate and weather-resistant native trees for their businesses.
The sight of chainsaw operators and charcoal processors greets every motorist on the streets of these regions with the production of charcoal happening in the heart of the forests while tracks await to be loaded.
The Native Trees
Dawadawa, baobab, shea, bombax, marula, lanea, and Jujube are native to the Savannah zone of Ghana. These trees have unique characteristics including facilitating the production of honey. Birds feed on these indigenous trees as well promoting a wide range of biodiversity in forests.
Dawadawa which is a nutritious component of northern delicacies and a recommended meal by nutritionists is having its fair share of deforestation as the stable is getting scarce, affecting both nutrition and the livelihood of the women.
“Women in these regions trade the dawadawa and shea for their sustenance and felling such indigenous trees means reduced harvest for our mothers.”
Sabog-naa John Mahama Yakubu, the chief of Gundaa-Gizaa in the Kumbungu District during an environmental restoration campaign said the phenomenon was rif in his community.
He mentioned that, in addition to restoring the environment, trees like the Dawadawa and Baobab provided food and nutrients to the locals.
“The baobab leaves are used to make soup and flour is extracted from the fruits to prepare local staples like porridge which come with high nutritional values,” he said.
Deforestation is on the rise in the Savannah and Upper West Regions. Jerimiah Seidu, an environmental advocate is worried that the absence of pragmatic measures would affect the fight against climate change and food security.
“Unscrupulous individuals have resorted to cutting down young and economically valuable trees to sell as fuel wood and charcoal,” he laments.
Between 2000 and 2020 Ghana experienced a net tree cover loss of 573,000 ha according to Global Forest Watch,
Illegal mining, lumbering, and other human activities are currently threatening the country’s remaining forest cover of 1.6 million hectares.
By: Mohammed Fugu.
This report was completed as part of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development‘s 2023 Climate Change Fellowship with funding support from the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Climate Change in News Media project.