A biodiversity conservation organisation has called for proper demarcation of agricultural lands that fall within buffer areas of ecological zones to better protect water bodies and forest reserves.
Conservation Alliance International (CAI) said the current demarcation, which allows between 50 and 100 metres away from water bodies and forests, still had negative impacts on natural resources.
The Executive Director of the CAl, Dr Yaw Osei-Owusu, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the absence of proper demarcation and management had subjected Ghana’s water bodies and forest reserves to destruction.He stressed that if urgent and timely actions were not taken, the country would lose its water bodies and forests over time to activities such as unregulated agricultural practices and illegal mining.
He stressed that if urgent and timely actions were not taken, the country would lose its water bodies and forests over time to activities such as unregulated agricultural practices and illegal mining.
Dr Osei-Owusu recommended that the demarcated areas be designated as “globally significant agricultural landscapes” to reflect their importance.
He said the policy directions of successive governments on the efficient use of land, forests and natural resources had yielded very few results.
“The likelihood of achieving the desired socio-economic and environmental impact with those same policies is impossible due to the gaps in the policies,” he said.
He, therefore, recommended that agricultural landscapes be well demarcated in accordance with ecological sensitivity to reinforce related public policies, such as the “riparian and buffer zone” policy aimed at better protecting forests and water bodies.
Dr Owusu expressed the view that in trying to protect ecological systems, particularly the forests and water bodies, it was imperative to also ensure that such activities did not affect agriculture, which had lost its position as the mainstay of the economy.
He said both the protection of ecological systems and the boosting of agriculture and its contribution to national development should be done harmoniously to ensure that one was not done at the expense of the other.
He said notwithstanding the enhancement in productivity through the use of fertilisers, pest control, using higher yielding varieties of seeds and the adoption of new technologies, the agricultural sector still faced “abiotic and biotic challenges” which needed urgent attention.
Dr Owusu explained that instead of stopping all agricultural activities within the buffer and riparian zones, there could be a national arrangement to allow such activities to be carried out under strict measures, which would ensure that agricultural practices did not have any negative impact on natural resources.
An alternative approach, therefore, was to identify and map out all agricultural lands within sensitive ecosystems and support producers on those lands to embrace environmentally friendly practices, he suggested.
“Better market value resulting from the quality of the produce could motivate more farmers to adhere to best farming practices,” he said.