Mr Stephen Kelleher, Senior Director of Cross-Cutting Issues and Coordination of Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities (FCMC) Programme, has said degradation of mangroves along the coast was a threat to the livelihood of people who live there.
He said mangroves are among the most important species of plants which could protect the coast line against the effect of climate change.
Mr. Kelleher said this at a day’s workshop at Elmina on the importance of mangrove plantation along the coast.
The workshop, organized by FCM in collaboration with USAID, was under the theme “The key to climatic change adaptation and mitigation,” and attended by 40 participants from West African countries.
It is to define a collective approach to help sustain the West African coastal mangroves to enhance ecosystem development in the sub-region.
Mr Kelleher said even though most of the coastal lines had been destroyed as a result of climatic change, the adaptation of mangrove plantation could restore shorelines as research had revealed.
He however noted with concern that the lack of adaptation efforts in developing countries like Ghana had led to significant vulnerability and exposure from extreme climate events due to unchecked ecosystem.
Mr. Bradley Wallach, the West African USAID Mission Director, expressed disappointment over the fact that climate change was emerging as the single most critical threat to the world’s economy and more specifically agricultural production and associated livelihoods because of warmer temperatures and less predictable rainfall patterns.
He said in most West African countries and Ghana in particular, many people were not aware of the effects of climate change.
He stated that 13 percent of the world’s mangrove (2.4 million hectares) is found in 19 West African countries and that they play a crucial role in the region’s economy contributing to an annual $400million commercial fishing industry.
Mr Wallach said data showed that mangrove ecosystems presented a unique and largely untapped opportunity to make a sizable impact on climatic-change resilience in West Africa.
According to him each hectare of mangrove stored about 1000tons of carbon which is three times as much as the average tropical rainforest hectare, adding that mangrove did not only protect coastal lines against storm but also serve as fish breeding grounds and habitats and wood for construction and firewood for cooking.
He said though mangroves were very important for ecosystem development, they were often marginalized in national climate-change plans and frequently mismanaged thereby resulting in an unbalanced depletion of the resources and benefits that have provided for past generation.
Dr. Lapodini Marc Atouga, Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources in a speech read for him called on all West African countries facing these problem to come together and
He cautioned that even though mangrove ecosystem are of critical importance to coastal socio-economic development and livelihood of the people such as providing fuel wood for drying fish, charcoal production, construction materials as well as provision of critical habitat for coastal and marine fisheries, they are also known to be under serious threat of degradation.
He said there was the need to develop regional, national and local capacities for sustainable management.
Professor Christopher Gordon, Director of the University of Ghana Institute for Environmental and Sanitation Studies, appealed to the government to enforce polices protecting coastal lines since the coastal lines are not only being destroyed as a result of climatic change but also due to some human activities as well. GNA