Ghana faces deforestation crisis amid surge in charcoal production

Ghana is facing a deforestation crisis due to the increasing production and consumption of charcoal, which has seen a 44% growth between 2010 and 2022.

The country has lost 70% of its wildlife and 6.15 million hectares of forest in the last ten years, with an estimated 2% of forest cover lost annually.

The charcoal industry, worth over GHc1 billion annually, has become a lucrative option for many households, especially in the Savannah and transitional ecological regions. However, the lack of regulation and sustainability practices has led to the destruction of fruit plants and forests.

To address this issue, the government has been urged to regulate the charcoal industry, designate areas for tree felling, and tax the industry appropriately to compensate for forest loss.

The recommendations, made by the Centre for Energy, Minerals, and Sustainable Development (CEMSE), also include the promotion of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and forest conservation instruments to engender environmental sustainability.

“The balance between economic benefits and sustainability issues demands a coherent policy that regulates the value chain of charcoal production in Ghana,” said a statement from CEMSE.

The government’s efforts to promote LPG and forest conservation have been hindered by the higher cost of LPG, making charcoal a more accessible and affordable option for low-income households.

The continued destruction of forests and biodiversity has negatively affected carbon sequestration in Ghana and threatens the country’s efforts to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.

The recommendations aim to strike a balance between economic benefits and sustainability issues, ensuring that the charcoal industry supports household income while safeguarding the environment.

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