The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan on Friday joined His Majesty Yagbonwura Tuntumba Bore Essa and members of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) to commemorate Shea Day with a tree planting event at the premises of Jakpa Palace in Damongo.

This event is a part of the Action for Shea Parklands initiative, which was launched in 2020 to preserve and protect the shea parklands across West Africa.

It is estimated that 8 million shea trees are lost every year.

The loss of the shea trees not only destroys the biodiversity of the entire ecosystem resulting in erosion, flooding, and desertification but impacts the livelihoods of millions of people who live in these regions.

To mitigate these effects, USAID is supporting GSA members to undertake cross-regional activities including tree planting, parkland management training, advocacy and social media campaigns in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo under the Sustainable Shea Initiative.

The Sustainable Shea Initiative is an $18 million, five-year program that promotes the sustainable expansion of the shea industry in Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Mali, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso and to increase the incomes of hundreds of thousands of rural women.

In Ghana, 20,000 trees will be planted across the five regions of the north this year alone.

Ambassador Sullivan, who launched the Action for Shea Parklands initiative in 2020, emphasized the critical need to protect shea parklands and take progressive action to reverse the effects of degradation.

“Our strongest belief is that action should be led by communities at the local level – restoration begins with a clear understanding of your landscape and your needs. Each one of us here must then take action to reverse climate change, and tree planting is a positive first step. The task is more complex than simply planting trees. The restorative process requires our long-term investment in the management and growth of the trees we plant today and in the future over many years.”

She further expressed the U.S. government’s commitment to contribute to global climate solutions, highlighting its return to the Paris Climate Agreement and its support of the global one trillion tree initiative, which seeks to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030 and commended the Yagbonwura for his decision to ban logging and commercial charcoal production in the Savannah Region.

“Your majesty, I am thrilled with the declaration you have made directing all the 21 paramountcies in the Gonja traditional area to ban the cutting down of shea trees for charcoal, to release land for the parklands to protect and to support the project and to encourage the planting of trees by all the people in the Gonja traditional area. This act is a demonstration of your leadership to support parkland restoration, boost women’s economic opportunities and develop resilient communities across Gonja Land.”

The Yabongwura in a speech read for him by Buipewura Abdulai Jinapor II made a declaration directing all 21 paramountcies in the Gonja traditional area to make land available for the planting of shea trees.

The Chief Executive Officer of tree crop development authority, William Quaitoo said his outfit “has committed to supporting the shea landscape and parklands restoration Project with 40,000 elite shea seedlings with the shortest gestation period carefully produced under direct supervision by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.”

The Ambassador and the Buipewura together with other industry players planted shea trees at the Jakpa palace to mark the shea day.

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