Let’s restore land for multiple benefits, achieve SDGs – EPA

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo

Bolgatanga, June 11, GNA – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has underscored the urgent need for the restoration of the environment, particularly land, for multiple benefits to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr Asher Nkegbe, the Upper East Regional Director of the EPA, said land had been identified as a cross-cutting issue relating to climate change, biodiversity conservation and desertification control, which all countries were striving to achieve.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on this year’s World Environment Day, Dr Nkegbe expressed worry at the continuous destruction and degradation of the environment, particularly land and called for collective action to reverse the trend.

This year’s World Environment Day was held on the theme: “Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience,” with the slogan “Our land, our future.”

He said human activities such as deforestation, bush burning, unsustainable farming practices, unregulated mining activities among others, continued to destroy the environment and deepen the pervasive impact of climate change regarding flood, drought, and desertification.

Dr Nkegbe who is also the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) National Focal Point, said reversing degraded lands would contribute to ensuring food security, climate resilience and improvement of livelihoods of vulnerable communities.

It would also enhance efforts towards attaining the SDGs especially goals, one, two, five, six, 13 and 15, which placed emphasis on attaining no poverty, zero, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, climate action, and life on land respectively by 2030.

The government through its various ministries, departments and agencies had over the years implemented several interventions including the Ghana Environment Project, Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP), and Adaptation Fund, aimed at addressing the environmental challenges and improving livelihoods.

Currently, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MESTI) and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources through the EPA, the Department of Agriculture, Water Resources Commission among others, were implementing the Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining Project (GLRSSMP),

This is a six-year government of Ghana and World Bank project building on lessons, experiences, and successes from implementing the SLWMP

The project geographically targets 12 districts in the Northern Savannah Zone including ecological zones within the Guinea Savannah, Sudan Savannah, and the upper portions of the

Transitional ecological zone, as well as Cocoa Forest Landscape in parts of the Forest ecological zone and the Pra River Basin.

It was aimed at strengthening Ghana’s natural resources management, restoring degraded forest and landscapes, formalising, and regulating small-scale mining to increase their benefits to communities in Northern Savannah and Cocoa Forest Zones.

Dr Nkegbe said under the project, farmers and communities had been empowered to manage natural resources including water bodies, restore degraded lands, forests and improve sustainable agriculture practices.

He mentioned interventions such as agroforestry, riparian restoration, construction of dugouts and weirs, woodlot, earth bonding, composting, stone bonding among others, that were impacting significantly in rural communities, adding that about 467,305 hectares of land were under restoration in the Savannah ecological zone.

He called on stakeholders to help in community and national efforts to restore degraded lands, to avert climate change impacts, particularly by adopting natural regeneration approaches as viable land restoration mechanisms to improve the benefits of land.