Ghana — Nobody disputes the enormous role fireplays in our domestic homes. Its role as a major tool for land management,maintenance of many natural ecosystem and agricultural practice are immeasurable.These and others truly make the good servant aspect of fire intact. However,fire has for the past one and half years brought so much pain, anxiety, andcomplete loss of hope to many homes, businesses and institutions thereby makingits bad servant aspect increasingly dominant now than ever before.
The burning of warehouses of companies, market centers banks among others cannotbe easily glossed over. As if these were not enough there are practically more signs of fire in this dryseason than before. Admittedly until the disaster by bushfire in the late 1982and early 1983, fire as a tool for small-scale land clearance did not cause anyconsiderable degradation to either the forest or the production potential ofsoils. Unfortunately, the story is different today.
Wildfire has become the major cause of forest and land degradation threateningtimber plantation development, biodiversity conservation and of course thegeneral environmental quality. Economically, wildfire accounts for a threepercent annual loss to our Gross Domestic Product. GDP, which is estimated atUS$210m, startling statistics from the forest sector also reveals an annual lossof revenue of about US$24m from timber and wildlife. Ghanaians have every reasonto be worried when one considers the fact that an estimated total land size ofthe nation prone to wildfire annually ranges from 30% in the high forest andtransitional zones to over 90% in the savannah zone. The climate is not left outin this direction.
An assessment of Ghanas vulnerability to climate change conducted by theEnvironmental Protection Agency, EPA, indicates that carbon dioxide accounts forthe highest share of Ghana greenhouse gas emissions. The increasing levels of carbon dioxide are principally attributed to theremoval of woody biomass stock and emissions from fuel combustion. Which isbasically the result of wildfire? This has led to the sometimes discomfortingrise in temperature. The need for all to actively join the anti-bushfirecampaigns should be treated with all seriousness. The call on Metropolitan,municipal and district assemblies as well as traditional rulers to spearhead theanti-bushfire campaign is in the right direction. Fire volunteers who are at thegrass root level should be adequately resourced and motivated to play their roleeffectively. Drivers, hunters and palm wine tapers should desist from acts thatcan cause bushfire.
Farm belts by farmers should also be properly constructed and inspected by firevolunteers or officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture before burningtheir farmlands. If we all play our roles well we will save the nation from apossible disaster through wildfire.