Reclamation of land degraded by illegal mining is set to receive a major boost as the Forest Research Institute (FORIG) outdoors heavy metal absorbing tree species.

The three species, both indigenous and exotic, selected after rigorous study are said to also have the capacity to stabilize soil for agricultural production.

Lead researcher, Dr. Akwasi Duah-Gyamfi, says galamsey across the country remains a major environmental concern.

Forest cover, water sources, soil fertility have been under siege in a combined activity to destroy the ecosystem.

Heavy metals, namely Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Nickel and Lead are deposited in the soil with attendant danger to life, including diseases like cancer.

FORIG scientists have been exploring a technology known as, phytoremediation, which involves the use of plants to remove heavy metal contaminated areas.

“Phytoremediation technology is cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” Dr. Duah-Gyamfi reinforced.

Milicia excelsa known locally as Odum, Nauclea diderrichii known as Kusia and Senna siamea known as Cassia were found to have a remarkable potential to absorb cadmium and lead.

The research followed established willingness and determination of locals in mining communities to restore degraded galamsey land.

Principal Research Scientist, Dr. Beatrice Darko Obiri, found local communities were willing to pay for ecosystem system.

“The restoration of galamsey-degraded lands in Ghana is possible if a bottom-up approach is adopted where local communities are put at the centre of affairs and made to win restoration processes through community-based payment for ecosystem services-like scheme,” explained Dr. Beatrice Darko Obiri.

Dr. Duah-Gyamfi suggests government allow FORIG to use part of internally generated funds to study more of these tree species.

“We’ll need support to screen more species to identify their phytoremediation potential and use them for such a course,” he said.