By: Prof. Edward Wiafe Debrah,
Ag. Pro Vice-Chancellor
The global community is especially recognising the value of forests in preserving human health on the International Day of Forests, which is observed on the 21st of March every year. This year’s celebration which is on the Theme: “Forests and Health,” is to commemorate the crucial part forests play in maintaining our health and giving us a safe and secure environment, with the
Benefits to both physical and mental health can be found in forests. They offer a variety of health advantages, including better air quality, greater mental health, and a decrease in stress levels, in addition to serving as a habitat for wildlife and a place for people to go exploring.
Forests are beneficial for mental health because they offer a peaceful setting where people may unwind and find peace and tranquility away from the stress of daily life. According to studies, spending time in nature improves mental health by lowering stress levels, elevating mood, and sharpening focus. Additionally, the presence of trees, plants, and greenery might lessen depressive and anxious feelings.
Forests, further serve as a natural defense against extreme weather, acting as a bulwark against powerful winds, torrential rain, floods, and drought. They support temperature control, lessen the chance of water pollution, and guard against soil erosion.
The adage, “Health is riches,” is true. But finding the time or energy to devote to our physical and emotional welfare in our busy, modern world can be challenging. Spending time in and outdoors, especially in forests, is one of the healthiest things we can do, according to a growing body of studies.
Unique to the natural world are forests. They are frequently teeming with rich, diversified greenery, wildlife, and fresh air, making them the ideal haven for frazzled, overworked minds. A rising corpus of studies emphasizes the multiple health benefits that being outdoors may provide.
According to a Japanese study known as the “Forest Bathing Study,” short walks through a forest can improve our physical and emotional well-being. The forest setting also delivered a reduction in psychological stress, an increase in vitality, and a general sensation of calm, which also found that participants’ blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate were lower after spending time in a forest.
The benefits of forests on human health can be attributed to a few main factors. In the first place, the natural surroundings and fresh air have a calming, soothing influence on our bodies and thoughts. Also, forests frequently have a wide variety of plants and animals, inspiring amazement and wonder that can lower our stress levels. Furthermore, going for a walk in a forest can make one relax and get a better perspective of situations. Being close to nature can increase our sense of connectedness to the outside world and offer us the mental clarity we need to think more clearly.
Ghana is home to some of the world’s most lush and vibrant forests. These forests are essential for the health of Ghanaians as they provide numerous environmental, economic, and social benefits.
Forests in Ghana provide vital ecosystem services that are essential to the health and well-being of the people. The forests provide a variety of resources such as food, fuel, and medicinal plants. They also provide vital habitats for wildlife, prevent soil erosion, and absorb carbon dioxide, helping to reduce global warming. Forests also provide recreational opportunities, allowing people to experience nature and the beauty of the country.
The Ghanaian forests also contribute to the local and national economy. They provide a source of income for many rural communities, as well as for the national government. Timber, non-timber forest products, and ecotourism are all important sources of income. They further, provide jobs in the form of forestry, transportation, and processing of timber and other forest products.
Better still, the Ghanaian forests also provide a number of social benefits. They serve as a venue for people to gather for cultural and religious events. They also serve as a source of spiritual solace that helps to connect people to nature, providing an important source of relaxation and stress relief. In addition, forests provide a source of education, as they can be used to teach children about the environment and the importance of conservation.
Unfortunately, forests in Ghana are under threat. Deforestation is a major problem, as illegal logging, mining and agricultural expansion are depleting the forests at an alarming rate. In addition, climate change is having a negative impact on forests, as higher temperatures and changes in precipitation are leading to more frequent and intense droughts and forest fires.
To protect and preserve Ghana’s forests, it is critical that the government takes action. This includes creating and enforcing laws that protect forests from illegal logging, mining and agricultural expansion, and establishing protected areas, such as national parks, where forests can be preserved and managed sustainably. It is also important to ensure that local communities are involved in forest management and benefit from the resources that forests provide.
The health and well-being of Ghanaians is closely linked to the health of the country’s forests. It is essential that the government takes steps to encourage every community to create, protect and preserve some forests for future generations. Only by doing so can society continue to enjoy the many benefits that forests provide.
This year’s International Day of Forests has the theme “Forests and Health,” and we cordially welcome everyone to join us in recognizing the value of forests in maintaining our health and ensuring our safety. Join this global effort to safeguard and maintain our woods for a better and healthier future.