Forest conservation fights climate change
Forest conservation is crucial in fighting climate change. In Ghana, local communities are doing their part by switching to fast-growing timber and more efficient cooking stoves.
The rain forest is an essential ecosystem. It captures huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and provides food and shelter for innumerable species. It thus protects the climate and biodiversity in equal measure. However, the tropical forest is also a sought-after source of timber, and forest areas are declining dramatically as a result. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, four fifths of the population use wood or charcoal for cooking and heating. The raw material often comes from unregulated sources in the tropical forest – and demand is rising all the time.
Together with the Ghanaian Government, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working to reduce the pressure on Ghana’s forests. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), and as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), GIZ is pursuing three approaches: establishing plantations for wood energy, restoring degraded forest, and introducing energy-efficient cooking stoves.
Wood is women’s business
Stoves have been distributed to 5,000 households. Cooking is now more efficient and produces less smoke, and carbon dioxide emissions are lower too – saving 11,000 tonnes in the first year alone. What is more, the concept of ‘wood for energy’ shifts the burden from the forests that are home to rare and valuable species: it is obtained from fast-growing tree species that can be harvested every three to five years. Since work began, 308 hectares of ‘energy forest’ have been established and a further 700 hectares of degraded forest have been restored.
More than 3,000 local people are actively involved in tree nurseries and reforestation initiatives that have planted over 1 million saplings to date. More than 80 per cent of them are women. They no longer depend solely on the sale of wood and charcoal from the forest, and the additional income is opening up new prospects for them. ‘Paying my school fees has not been easy,’ says 22-year-old Yakubu Fauzia. ‘But since I’ve been working in the tree nursery, I’ve been able to save some money – and I’m going to use it to pay for my nursing training education.’