A former Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Emmanuel Appoh, says it is illegal to either cut down or prune your own tree in Ghana without a permit from the EPA.
He has, therefore, urged the public not to disregard the essence to obtain a permit before felling any tree in Ghana.
He said when you plant a tree, it does not belong to you anymore, hence the need to get a permit before doing anything to the tree. “There is the need for people to plant trees in their house and when you plant a tree, it doesn’t belong to you, you can’t cut it; you can’t even prune it,” he explained.
Speaking to Graphic Online in Accra on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, on the sidelines of a workshop organised by Ghana Urban Air Quality Project (GHAir), to promote quality air, Mr Appoh said, many people have disregarded the tree-cutting law and are felling trees indiscriminately without a permit.
The GHAir Project
The GHAir, which is being funded by the Clean Air Fund, focuses on deploying a mixture of low-cost sensors and reference grade monitors in urban areas of Ghana (Accra) to provide high spatiotemporal air pollution data for bridging important data gaps, epidemiologic research and community advocacy.
The workshop brought together environmental health officers from the various municipalities in the Greater Accra Region to be trained on how to monitor air quality in their respective areas.
Why the permit?
The former EPA boss said both Local Governance Act and the EPA Act prohibit people from felling trees without a permit, explaining that the law on the prohibition of the felling of trees without a permit was made to protect the environment.
He said once a tree is destroyed, it causes a lot of imbalance in the ecosystem, stressing that trees play important role in regulating the air quality and temperature.
For Mr Appoh, there are clearly stated sanctions against persons who fell trees without a permit, noting that because people are not being punished for the indiscriminate felling of trees, many people are unaware that there is a law on practice.
“Trees absorb the gases in the atmosphere so that we can get a clear air to breath,” he explained, noting that “tree is something that all living organisms rely on, especially we the advanced primates.”
He said “when you remove one tree, you cause a lot of imbalance in the ecosystem. Once you are going to remove a tree, there is the need to have a replacement so that future generations can also survive.”
Mr Appoh, however, encouraged the public to prioritise tree planting, especially in their homes and around their homes.
Data on air critical
The Lead for the Ghana Urban Air Quality Project, Professor. Adeladza Kofi Amegah, who is also an environmental and nutritional epidemiologist, called on the government to have accurate data on its air quality to inform clinical decisions.
He said there was a need for the government to invest more in procuring facilities that will enable the EPA and the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to monitor and gather data on air quality.
For him, having data on the air quality will also inform policy and actions that will help the country to improve its air quality.