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Ghana’s underwater forest wood could rebuild Notre-Dame

A Ghanaian company tasked to harvest wood stuck under Ghana’s Volta Lake has revealed that the wood could help rebuild the burnt Notre-Dame Cathedral in France.

Massive tropical trees were submerged beneath the Lake since 1965 at the time of the construction of Ghana’s Akosombo Dam.

Preserved from decay by the lake’s bog-like conditions, the wood is considered strong enough to rebuild the iconic Cathedral.

Kete Krachi Timber Recovery is reported by the BBC to have submitted a proposal to the French government.

It argues that using wood from Lake Volta would help restore Notre-Dame to its original state.

The company says it is more environmentally friendly to use the wood from Ghana’s Volta Lake than cutting down new trees.

Some French experts have described the proposal as a “genius solution” but others warn of the disastrous consequences for the ecosystem.

France used an estimated 1,300 trees, mainly oaks, felled in the 12th Century to build Notre-Dame’s iconic frame and spire.

Notre-Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame’s roof and spire collapsed after a fire burned through the cathedral in April. Photo: Getty Images

The deforested area spanned 52 acres – the equivalent of 26 football pitches.

Ghana coming to the rescue

Francis Kalitsi, chairman and co-founder of Kete Krachi says France doesn’t “have oak in these volumes for the construction of cathedrals”.

“Whereas underneath the lake, you have typical African hardwoods that are similar to oak trees – their density may range from 650kg to 900kg per cubic metre.

They are structural timbers which could be useful in the reconstruction.”

The Ghanaian company has already harvested some of the underwater timber. Most of the wood is exported to Europe, and some to South Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Underwater forest wood in Ghana
Remotely operated machinery is used to extract timber from Lake Volta. Photo: JACOB TETTEH AGEKE

The company hopes to sell $50m worth of wood to the French government if it’s proposal is accepted.

Notre-Dame Cathedral requires rebuilding after its spire and roof were consumed by a blaze in April this year.


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