Bush Burning Is Major Challenge

Bush Burning Is Major Challenge In Northern Ghana

23 December 2011

published by www.coastweek.com

Ghana —  Annual bush burning does not only affect the environment and contributes to climate change but has adverse effect on human and animal health.
TAMALE, Ghana (Xinhua) — Indiscriminate bush burning has become one of the major developmental challenge in north Ghana which authorities seem not to find lasting solution to it.

In every dry season, large tracts of land and vegetation are burnt by some people secretly destroying properties and biodiversity. Aside the destruction of biodiversity, the region loses a substantial hectors of food and cash crops such as shea nut.

One of the victims of bush fire is Mr Alhaji Issah Abah, the District Chief Executive for Chereponi.

He told Xinhua in an interview that 35 acres of maize farm and 70 acres of rice farm had been burnt to ash by a wild fire, the source of which was unknown.

About 10 hectares of maize belonging to Kuga Na Adam Abdulai II, a traditional leader, was on Wednesday destroyed by bushfire near Kuga in the Northern Region.

Annual bush burring does not only affect the environment and contributes to climate change but has adverse effect on human and animal health, social integration as well as the economic well- being of the people.

Information gathered by Xinhua indicated that bush burning was principally carried out in an indiscriminate and haphazard manner by hunters and others, who burned the bush to drive away reptiles, or used it as a farming tool in order to regenerate grazing land, or retain nutrients in the soil.

A source told Xinhua it was the Fulani herdsmen who burned the bush to facilitate the growing of new grasses feed their cattles.

Asked what should be done to halt such destructive activities, Mr Abu Iddrisu, Manager of the Northern Regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that his outfit was aware of the indiscriminate bush burning in the area, but had not been able to identify the people behind it.

Iddrisu said that bush burning, no matter how it was caused, was illegal under any clauses of the environment contravene Act 490.He confirmed that it was the Fulani headsmen who did the burning, which reduced populations and most species during or immediately after a fire in the area.

Others which survived the fire died shortly afterwards due to predation by other species due to shortages of food.Many insects and spiders were also killed, especially in a high intensity fire that destroyed the bark and litter layer in which they lived.

With regards to effect of bushfires on soil, Iddrisu said it had biological, chemical and physical effects on soils.The extents of these effects were dependent on the fire intensity and the resulting temperature of the soil.

The soil changes, combined with ash from the fire, may cause an ash-bed effect, increasing the fertility of the soil.However, these nutrients were relatively soluble, and might be rapidly washed from the site by rain, he said.

There was enough evidence to show that indiscriminate burning of bush contributed to the reduction of the Growth Domestic Product by 1.5 percent in 2009.

Food production in the Northern Region was found to have dropped because once the vegetation on the land was burnt, the micro-organisms that make up the soil ecosystem were also damaged, rendering the soil less fertile immediately after the fire and reducing crop yields for the year.

Bush burning also affected the livelihood of people and had brought about extreme poverty and migration to the south to look for other source of living..

Bush burning contributed to climate change and virtually led to the rise of diseases including malaria and cerebral spinal meningitis.Local authorities have set up an environmental management committees to educate and ensure that people who set the bush on fire were brought to book.

Nine people were apprehended during a joint operation by the Ghana Police Service and EPA and would be prosecuted soon.

Hajia Mariama Alhassan, Dakpema Magajia (Women’s leader) of the Tamale Metropolis, told the Xinhua that most of the bush burning was done by young men in the communities with the intention of hunting bush meat.

She complained that “as a traditional leader I have been complaining and advising the community members not to engage in such activities but they don’t mind”.

She, however, called on the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to strengthen the bye-laws that prevented people from embarking on such activities and ensure that they were enforced strictly.

The Northern Regional Minister, Moses Bukari Mabengba, in an interview with Xinhua, attributed the growing food insecurity in the area to the increasing spate of bush burning, indiscriminate felling of trees and improper land management, which seriously destroyed farmlands and intensified climate change effects.

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