Notes to broadcasters
These days, there is pressure on forests as people cut trees for firewood and other purposes. Originally, at the beginning of the 20th century, about 8.2 million hectares or 1/3 of the landmass of Ghana was covered by forest. The country has lost about half its forest cover. This has become a worrisome situation and several programmes have been implemented, in a bid to salvage the situation.
In this script, village elders Nana Kwaku, Nana Kofi and Nana Boahen and Mr. Ackom, a forestry officer, meet at the village square to talk about the past, present and the future of the environment they have observed for the past seventy years.
ScriptSignature tune, fade out.
Good morning (afternoon, evening). If you have recently noticed that you feel hot and uncomfortable in the changing environment, and you want to know what trees can do for us, and you want to know something about global warming, then stay tuned as Nananom (elders) and a forestry officer discuss things they know about the environment.
Sounds of people passing by and birds singing.
Sounds of dragging and pulling of chairs and tables.
Ah! Amma, why is it that many things are disappearing in our environment nowadays? There are no butterflies, no beautiful birds, no shady trees, no cool air and no heavy rains. Why?
About twenty-five years ago, the farming season was ushered in by a stream of butterflies moving from southeast to northwest. Owls hooted at nights. Palm fruits, cola nuts and other fruits dropped onto the forest floor to the advantage of squirrels, antelopes and rats. Parrots were seen moving long distances from unknown origins to unknown destinations. Monkeys were heard early in the morning, jumping from tree to tree. Those sounds served as a call to duty to farmers, announcing the advent of morning.
Conversely, the evening was ushered in by the sounds of crickets. There were no bush fires because of continuous rains throughout the year. Flowers released a nice fragrance, giving work to bees that moved from flower to flower searching for nectar. Now all these are gone. I have heard it is a punishment from the gods and the ancestors.
Hmm! A punishment from the gods and ancestors? It sounds strange to me. There have been enough rains this year for farmers in Suuanso, which is only nine kilometers from Yamfo. So you want to tell me that rainfall comes from our gods and ancestors?
Boahen, look up at the mountains. Twenty years ago, they were covered with dense forest. Now, look at the bare rocks. We are surely being punished.
I think the destruction of the forest cover around the town is the result of the drought we are facing and not a punishment from gods or ancestors. Plant more trees and the rains will come.
I support what Nana Boahen is saying. It is the destruction of the forest cover that has brought about the drought and not a curse from ancestors and gods. If we decide to plant more trees, I can help with tree seedlings, because I have 10,000 seedlings of acacia, 5,000 seedlings of mahogany, and 5,000 orange and mango seedlings. I also have other tree species in my nursery. I think that the rainfall that we enjoyed some time ago fell because of the forest cover and may not be from the gods and the ancestors. The bushfires, indiscriminate tree felling and other environmentally degrading activities of the people in the town led to the drought we are experiencing now. If we plant more trees starting today, we shall get more rainfall in five years time and the rising temperatures will stop.
What did you say? Are temperatures rising? Whose temperature is rising?
I am not talking about personal temperatures; I am talking about the temperature of the whole world. It has risen by two degrees over the past fifty years.
What is the meaning of this, Mr. Ackom?
It means that, if 50 years ago, the average annual temperature was 25 degrees at Yamfo in June, then today the average annual temperature in Yamfo in June would be 27 degrees.
What does that have to do with us here?
A lot! Have you wondered why we have longer dry seasons and more disastrous bushfires than twenty years ago? Have you also seen lately that when it rains, it is heavy and with great winds that destroy property? Have you seen that flooding is rife in many places? I suppose it was not like that 20 years ago. These changes are the result of rising temperatures in the world.
What causes this rise in the world temperature?
This global warming or rise in the world’s temperature is due to human activities. For instance, when we slash the bush and burn our farms, we see smoke going out into the air. The smoke you see contains a gas called carbon dioxide. When it goes up into the sky, it stays there for a long time. If many farmers do the same, the gas gathers there in large quantities to form a thick blanket or canopy in the skies. When the sun shines and warms the earth’s surface, some of the heat should be reflected back into the skies. But this blanket of carbon dioxide prevents the heat from going back into space, and so the temperature of the earth rises.
Can we bring the temperatures down?
Not entirely. But we can help stop it from going up too high. One way we can help is to plant more trees.
Hmm! So trees can help bring down the world’s rising temperatures. How can that be?
Because trees take in carbon dioxide to prepare their food. They give out oxygen, a gas that we breathe in. Secondly, trees take water from the ground to nourish their roots, trunks and leaves. When they have too much water, they release some of it as vapour into the atmosphere. The vapour contains particles of cool water that cool the air around the tree. Thirdly, these vapours from the trees can form clouds and fall as rain. Fourthly, the canopies of forests can intercept 20-25% of the rain that falls on them rather than having it evaporate directly back into the atmosphere. Water also runs over the tree trunk and falls to the ground without damaging the topsoil because of carpets of leaves on the forest floor. Trees give shade and prevent the severe sunshine from reaching us. All these, elders, can help bring down the rising temperatures.
Listeners, you have heard for yourselves about the dangers of global warming and the benefits of tree planting. I hope you will plant a tree today to save lives. Many organizations are working locally to stop global warming. (
insert names, phone numbers and addresses of local or national organizations that are working on global warming and tree planting issues.) So see you next week. It’s bye for now.
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Contributed by: Kwabena Agyei, Classic FM, Techiman, Ghana.
Reviewed by: Dr. Daniel A. Ofori, Principal Research Scientist (Genetics and Conservation Biology), Head – Tree Improvement and Seed Technology Leader – Plantation Development Programme, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana University, Kumasi, Ghana