Natural Resources depletion costs Ghana $520 million annually
A research conducted by The Stateman, by courtesy of the World Bank
|Keywords||natural resources, slash and burn, off researve forest|
A research conducted by The Statesman, by courtesy of the World Bank, reveals that the degradation of agricultural soils, forests and Savannah woodlands, coastal fisheries, wildlife resources, and Lake Volta's environment (the five types of natural assets) are estimated to cost Ghana at least $520 million annually. This represents 6.0% of Ghana"s annual Growth Domestic Product. It is estimated that the cost of environmental degradation to GDP represents one-third of Ghana’s $1.5 billion annual Overseas Development Assistance, according to a World Bank report on Natural Resources Management and Growth sustainability. The large majority (about 63%) of the estimated costs of environmental degradation comes from in and off-reserve forests, with Soil nutrient depletion accounting for 20% together to represent 5% of GDP, the report stated. The report noted that Ghana’s natural resources, upon which so much of the country’s economic activity and the population’s livelihood depend, are being depleted at an alarming rate. It indicated that more than 50% of the original forest area has been converted to agricultural land by slash-and-burn clearing practices. Despite cocoa land expansion, productivity has declined because of rampant soil erosion. Fish, timber, and non timber forest product stocks are decreasing. As a result, coastal towns have begun to experience severe water shortages during the dry season. Hydropower capacity is dropping, and bilharzia has spread around the Volta Lake region, the report noted. Further, wildlife populations and biodiversity are in serous decline and many species face extinction. It indicated that, all these consequences of resource depletion might lower Ghana’s GDP growth in the near future. It is noted that poor forest management and soil degradation result in huge economic losses. The degradation of Lake Volta’s environment increases the costs and reduces the quality of both water and power supplies to urban populations. The report observed that the prospects for economic development, sustainable rural livelihoods, and poverty reduction in Ghana are highly dependent on natural resources. This is because rural households rely on soil and other natural resources for their livelihoods, fisheries, and wildlife provide important source of protein in Ghanaian diets. Besides, Urban economic activities depend on reliable hydroelectric power and fuel for growth. The report said, natural resources are indispensable for most of the economic sectors in the country. About half of Ghana’s GDP derived from agriculture and livestock which is 29%, forestry and wood processing 7% were closely related to the natural resource bases of the country. others are fisheries, 4%, electricity and water, 3% and Tourism (5%). It indicated that, despite their social and economic roles, Ghana’s natural resources are over exploited and continue to decline in both quantity and quality. Inappropriate crop production practices, mining and the wood industry are adversely affecting forests and savannah woodlands. Furthermore, ongoing soil erosion and a decline in soil fertility undermine food and agricultural production, as well as salt winning. The report recommended for a stronger policy dialogue between stakeholders and government to establish a policy, institutional, and regulatory framework to provide sustainable management practices for Ghana’s natural resources. It also recommended for a removal of the perverse incentives that drive poor environmental management and governance of natural resources in the country, and addressing land degradation issues which affects agriculture. It also called for government to reinforce local community involvement in natural resource and environmental management. Government should also provide people with alternative sources of revenue and livelihood, by stimulating investments in wildlife ,farming, ecotourism, tree plantations, and sustainable land management. Finally, the report noted that Ghana has the means to stop depletion of its natural resources, but ought to make it a priority. Alternatively, policymakers, after discussions with all stakeholders could transform those ideas into concrete action plans with implementation arrangements, financing instruments, and detailed cost assessments. That, it said, would help Ghana to curb the current depletion of its natural resources and improve productivity. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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