The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission says individuals and institutions must work together to save the country's forests to guarantee constant and reliable supply of water.
Over 100 out of 293 forest reserves covering several hectares of land have been burnt in the first half of this year alone.
Samuel Afari Dartey says the situation could spell doom for Ghana if the reserves, which in all cover an estimated 2.4 million hectares of land and 23 wildlife sanctuaries, are destroyed.
He was speaking at a durbar to commemorate the 5th Forestry Week at Agona in the Sekyere South District of Ashanti region on Friday.
Human activities are blamed for 90 per cent of fires in over 100 forest reserves across the country in the first half of the year, forcing the Forestry Commission to begin nationwide assessment.
According to Mr. Dartey, some forest reserves and wildlife sanctuaries were created to protect streams and water bodies knowing their social and economic importance.
He mentioned the Fure River Forest Reserve at Asankragua in the Western region which mainly protects the Fure River, Pompo Headworks and Jemi River Forest Reserve in Asante-Bekwai , Mamang Forest Reserve in Kade which protects the Mamang River. Others are the Tain Tributary Forest Reserve in the Brong Ahafo region as well as the Nasia Forest Reserve in Walewale.
He is canvassing for a nationwide support for the protection of forest reserves to guarantee constant supply of portable drinking water for all.
“It may interest you to know that residents in Accra derive their sources of drinking water from the Birim, Densu and Ayensu rivers, which take their sources from the Atiwa Range Forest Reserve. Destruction of this Forest Reserve will, therefore, have serious implications for water supply to Accra and its environs,” he warned.
Mr Dartey continued, “In the Cape Coast Municipality and its environs, the Kakum and the Assin Attadanso Forest Reserves serve as sources of fresh water supply to residents.
Many forest reserves across the country were created and gazette primarily to protect river and stream catchment areas or corridors, with many named after the rivers they were created to protect”
Meanwhile, the Forestry Commission may change its operational strategy to achieve optimum results.
He tells Nhyira FM he sometimes feels disillusioned at the rate of destruction to the forest reserves.
“We are losing about 65,000 hectares of the forest per annum and if this trend should continue, in the next 23 years Ghana will not have any forest left. Sometimes I get disillusioned. ”
He wants to see increased education as part of the new strategy.
“Education should be increased to the high level and therefore, I think as an institution, we probably have to change our ways to making sure that Ghanaians know the value of the forest.”