The Assemblyman of the Ankobrah Electoral Area in the Western Region, Mr Isaac Morkeh Codjoe, has appealed for assistance to protect the mangrove habitats around the Ankobrah River from being destroyed for firewood and construction.
Mangroves are a group of tropical trees or shrubs that grow in dense thickets or forests along tidal estuaries with exposed roots that serve as a buffer between marine and terrestrial communities by protecting shorelines from damaging winds, waves, and floods.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) Mr Codjoe said although other conservation groups had intervened through education and awareness creation, the problem still persisted and getting out of hand.
“The Assembly and other groups have tried to protect the mangrove forests around the Akobrah River for so many years, but things are not the same now. People are cutting down the trees to sell for firewood and for construction,” he said.
“Most people here either go to the sea or to the river to fish. As we all know, marine fisheries in Ghana are suffering. The fishermen return from the sea every day with zero catch.”
“Previously, some of them will turn to the Ankobrah River to get some fish, but galamsey has destroyed the river. They can spend the whole day and catch only one fish in the polluted water.”
Illegal mining, otherwise known as ‘galamsey’ has had devastating effects on the environment and livelihoods, not to mention the impact on fisheries around the Ankobrah, Mr Cudjoe said.
“Several years of galamsey has destroyed the Ankobrah River, affecting the biodiversity of fishery resources around the area,” he said.
Mr Codjoe said communities within his electoral area included Kotokro, Sanwoma, and Bobrama and that with their livelihoods destroyed, some of the people were cutting down the mangrove vegetation to sell.
He, therefore, called on the government, civil society organisations, and individuals to help protect the mangrove habitats to safeguard the environment and secure livelihoods.
Mr Muntaka Chasant, an Environmentalist, said the importance of mangroves in providing habitats for many species of coastal and offshore fish/shellfish and tackling climate change could not be over-emphasised.
“Mangroves are incredibly important shrubs. They provide sheltered and spawning sites for fish and crustaceans, protect coastlines and act as sinks by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere,” he told the GNA.
“This helps us to regulate the global climate. Destroying them releases decades of stored carbon into the atmosphere, worsening the climate crisis.”
Mr Chasant, documenting mangrove habitats and livelihoods around the Ankobrah, said non-governmental organisations such as the Henmpoano had done an incredible job by creating awareness on the importance of mangroves in the coastal communities, but the problem still persisted.
“Mr Codjoe’s call is, therefore, very critical. We all know the long-term impacts the polluted Ankobrah River will have on the health of the mangrove habitats around the area. The appropriate authorities need to intervene immediately to protect the mangrove forests.” GNA