Oil sector must not compromise environment

Oil sector must not compromise environment


Posted 02 August 2011, by Staff, Accra Daily Mail, accra-mail.com

Out of 8.3 million hectares of high forest in the country in the early 1900s, only 1.6 million hectares remain.

Forest cover declined at an average rate of 1.7 per cent between 1990 and 2005, which amounts to about 70,000 hectares annually.

These dire figures on Ghana’s environment were disclosed by Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of the Environment, Science and Technology when she spoke on the “State of the Environment in Ghana and the Role of Women in Nation Building”, at a durbar to climax activities commemorating the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Obonu FM in Tema.

The theme of the celebration was “Our Culture, Our Development.” She said with the country’s developing oil industry, the need for a sustainable oil sector that would not compromise the country’s environment was therefore essential.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), she said was collaborating effectively with the Ministry of Energy to ensure that the best practices were applied by operators in the sector to ensure sustainable development.

She said the government had rolled out a number of capacity-building programmes to enable Ghanaians to participate in the expatriate-dominated oil and gas sector by making scholarships available to students to study oil and gas-related subjects.

Ms. Ayittey said that the Ministry of Energy and its related agencies were developing a land use planning scheme for the Western Region to ensure efficient and sustainable use of land.

She said: “Other sector Ministries such as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, are working assiduously to streamline land acquisition processes and to ensure transparency and sustainable land administration.”

Ms. Ayittey said the nation would be making progress towards environmental sustainability, if collectively Ghanaians took steps to address issues that impacted negatively on the environment.

She said that to effectively implement environmental policies, there should be improved coherence between sectoral government policies, improved law enforcement, enhanced capacity, especially at the decentralized levels, to implement policies.

She said the underlying causes were the expansion of land for plantations (especially cocoa, rubber, coffee, and palm oil), as well as logging, most of which were illegal, besides firewood exploitation and forest fires.

Ms. Ayittey said the situation had brought about the fragmentation of Ghana’s forest landscape, loss of wildlife corridors, and forest connectivity: degradation of biodiversity and the ecosystem.

She gave the assurance that Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology was collaborating with the Ministry of Lands and Forestry to replant lost forest cover and also guard the existing ones, to avert this worrying trend.

Ms. Ayittey said regulations and mining Laws were currently under review to ensure better environmental stewardship, as well as improve the human rights situation in the mining communities.

On the role of women in nation building, the Minister said the relevant policies for women’s economic empowerment needed to be strengthened, to help address inequalities affecting women and girls at all levels as regards access to education, age, poverty, geographical location, language, ethnicity and disability among others.

She also stressed the need to ensure that women and girls also had full and equal access to quality formal, informal, and non-formal education and vocational training at all levels.

Ms. Ayittey called for increase in the enrolment and retention rates of girls in schools, by ensuring that sufficient budgetary allocation was made to education authorities to effectively execute this mandate.




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