Planting 20 Million Trees to Reconcile Humanity and Nature
By Chelsea Blackmon
Nana Yaw Osei-Darkwa—known as Nana—seeks to provide solutions to the challenges around him. In 2008, Nana began a peace-project that would advocate for non-violence in Ghana and other nearby countries, including Tanzania. Ten years later, satisfied with his progress for human-to-human peace, Nana shifted his goal of peace between humans to peace between humans and nature. He points to the book of Genesis, in which humans are given the responsibility to take care of the earth. His Green Republic Project seeks to restore the relationship between humans and nature.
The Green Republic Project is youth-led, according to Nana. He believes that young people are “key agents” in the reconciliation process because they understand the “urgent need to purchase the future with the present”. High school and college students alike are involved with the project. Their goal is to plant 20 million trees over the next decade.
The goal is lofty, but Nana is persistent. Before the pandemic, he got the chance to meet the president of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Nana pitched to him the idea of a national tree planting day where everybody—from the president to the ordinary Ghanaian—would plant 5 trees. The president likes the idea and Nana is highly optimistic that he'll see his dream come to reality sooner rather than later.
So far, The Green Republic Project has planted 15,195 trees. Currently, they are working with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to plant 1,000 trees in Tema. Nana works to mobilize numerous churches and religious bodies to do their part to safeguard the environment and fight global warming.
The most common type of tree that they plant is mahogany, though Nana adds that type is determined by an area’s soil composition. Mahogany is known to have many medicinal uses, including, analgesic, antihemorrhagic, febrifuge, emetic, emmenagogue, and laxative, and does well in all 16 regions in Ghana.
The Green Republic Project faces many obstacles, including a lack of funding. Nana shares that it can be difficult for people to understand the importance of replenishing the environment. There is a lack of knowledge about how important trees are to humans—even though they help provide clean air for us to breathe. This lack can lead to apathy, which can make it difficult to get more people involved in the fight against climate change. Nana believes that for every tree that has been cut for economic gain, another one should be planted to keep the forests intact.
Next year, Nana plans to hold a Greening The Church Summit. Churches will be able to gather and discuss the role that churches play in taking care of the environment. More information will be provided on The Green Republic Project’s website when the event details are finalized.
Nana believes deeply that humans have a responsibility to maintain peace amongst themselves, as well as peace with the environment. The duty is spiritual and is best done within a community. Nana also believes that churches have an important role to play in helping to solve the climate crisis. As Jesus Christ offered solutions to life’s challenges, those who follow him should do the same—helping to provide solutions to challenges that our planet is facing.