Former President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday planted a seedling of the tree of life at Peduase in the Eastern Region as part of a national tree planting exercise.
The Government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, embarked on planting five million tree seedlings countrywide on June 11, as part of the Green Ghana Project, dubbed "Green Ghana: Let’s Go Planting Five Million Trees in One Day”.
The tree-planting programme is to spark the increase of forest cover and to help address the issue of climate change.
Former President Kufuor speaking to the media after the exercise, underscored the need for Ghanaians to ensure that ecosystem was kept in balance.
He said studies had shown that humans breathed in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide, whereas plants used the carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and give out oxygen; saying "When the last tree dies, the last man dies".
The former President noted without oxygen mankind would not survive.
He said the planting of five million tree seedlings project embarked upon by the Government was part of efforts to address the issue of climate change and desertification.
He said the tree planting programme demonstrated the Government's commitment to fulfill the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) Agreement, which was a legally binding international treaty on climate change.
The former President said the CO21 was designed to arrest and overcome climate change.
He said food security was also part of the trees planting programme, declaring that "even as we urbanise, we still need the ecosystem balance".
Former President Kufuor cited increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels, droughts, desertification, erratic rainfalls and its accompanying floods in towns and cities as some of the effects of climate change.
He, therefore, appealed to all Ghanaians to take the issue of tree planting very seriously as part of efforts to arrest climate change.
Madam Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director, Climate Change at the Forestry Commission, said the time for tackling the issue of climate change was now.
She said that the Commission had put measures in place to ensure that the five million tree seedlings being planted survived.
President Akufo Addo showed leadership by example
At the Jubilee House, President Akufo Addo, joined officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and Parks and Gardens to plant a tree at the lawn of the seat of government. The President who planted a commemorative tree known as the Lignum Vitae or the tree of life, urged Ghanaians to bring back life into the depleted forest across the country by planting trees to replace the lost ones.
At a short ceremony at the forecourt of the Jubilee House, Accra, the President indicated that the forest was one of the nation's most important resource, providing jobs, incomes, foreign exchange and environmental protection for the country.
However, the exploitation of forest resources for national development has not been sustainable over the years.
Noting that deforestation and forest degradation had been the greatest challenge to sustainable management of Ghana's forest, President Akufo-Addo said the trend had to be reversed urgently in order to protect livelihoods, biodiversity, rainfall and water condition in the country.
"There is an urgent need to reverse the trend and return our forest resources, as much as possible, back to its original state.
"We do not have tomorrow, or the day after tomorow...We have to act now," he emphasized.
The President said government was determined to restore the lost forest cover of the country, mostly through policy intervention.
He indicated that the attempt to regulate and sanitize the small-scale mining industry is one of such interventions to help keep the forest cover and reserves intact.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that the nationwide tree planting exercise would not be a one-off event, but would be observed annually until the country's forest cover is replenished.
"We intend to enhance ongoing afforestation programs and see to the sustainable exploitation of our forest resources," he said.
The President gave the assurance that the Government would ensure the survival of the five million trees being planted.
Asantehene and his daughter also planted their trees
Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II also planted a tree as part of the Green Ghana Project which is aimed at planting five million trees in a single day across the country.
His daughter, Nana Afia Kobi Serwah Ampem Osei Tutu also planted a tree to celebrate her 16th birthday as it coincided with the day.
The trees were planted during a short ceremony organised by the forestry commission to commence tree planting as part of the Green Ghana Project at the Royal Golf Park at Danyame in the Kumasi Metropolis of the Ashanti region.
Other dignitaries who also planted tree include the Deputy Minister-Designate for Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio; Ashanti regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah; the regional Forestry Manager, Augustine Gyedu among others.
The Ashanti region targeted to plant 1-million trees but the regional Forestry Manager, Augustine Gyedu says seedlings distributed across the region has exceeded the target by 200,000 due to demand for the seedlings.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah cautioned against illegal mining and logging while commending Otumfuo for setting the pace for the country to adopt.
He noted that the Asantehene started the tree planting before the nation adopted it.