Examples of Forest and Savannas in Ghana: 1) Coastal Forest (Top, Cape Three Point Forest Reserve), 2) Moist Forest (Bottom left; Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary), 3) Guinean Savanna (Bottom Middle; Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve), Coastal Savanna (Bottom right; Shai Hills Resource Reserve).
I did not celebrate the International Day of Forests on Sunday 21, 2021. I know what you are thinking. How can I say that? Am I not the same person that write passionately about the importance of Forest protection (e.g., see my take of the deforestation discourse)? Well, yes, I do write about forests. I also make a living providing technical support to stakeholders involved in forest conservation in West Africa.
But this time, I had to be a renegade! I hope, though, that my sins will not lead me to the same fate as that which befell the deserters of the night watch (Game of Thrones). You see, I have this knack for going in the opposite direction to the masses. Sometimes, it serves me well. Other times, it gets me into a whole lot of trouble. But perhaps, this will be one of the days when riding against the tide will serve a good purpose. Please, let me explain.
The thing is, I come from a country (Ghana) and a continent (Africa) where forest and savanna are the two dominant biomes with enormous economic and socio-cultural importance. Yet, campaigns for nature conservation are strikingly skewed towards forest. I like forests, I really do! I grew up in a forest region and started my career in forestry (stop thinking na, I did only good stuff). But I have come to appreciate and gotten engrossed in savanna lately. I find savannas as interesting (if not more) as forests. So why can’t we have equal emphasis on forest and savanna conservation?
For me, this looks more like the “Father’s Day” vs “Mother’s Day” celebration! I love my moms for sure! Truth is, I loved Dad equally, if not more. I remember I always wondered why Mother’s Day was way bigger and noisier than Father’s Day all the time. Since Dad ain’t no more, and I assumed the fatherly role, I have come to (unwillingly) understand why. I am not arguing against the elegance and grandeur associated with Mother’s Day celebration. The women in my life, especially the special one (some “annoying” little “uan”), are all amazing and deserve to be celebrated. Wait, why am I talking about Father’s and Mother’s Day? Oh, sorry, I mean why can’t we celebrate both equally?
I am not wrong to ask for equality in conservation efforts for both forest and savanna ooh. These days, we all preach equity, inclusiveness, and diversity in all spheres of life. So why does the world continue to ignore and downplay the importance of savannas and other grassy biomes? Maybe it is time for a new movement, a movement to end “Biomism” (don’t ask me, I don’t even know if it is an English word). By biomism (Biome + ism; from racism), I mean the discrimination against some biomes (got my eyes fixed on grassy biomes) in contemporary nature management across the world.
I have nothing more to say, except to say that we must, of course, celebrate International Day of Forests, but while doing so, lets also #StopBiomism because #GrassyBiomesMatterToo!