The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission has commenced steps to declare the Atiwa Forest a national park.
The forest serves as a source of water for about five million people in the country.
It also serves as a source for the River Densu which extends to the Weija Dam for treatment, and supplied to about 2.5 million people in Accra West and other millions of people in some parts of the Eastern Region.
The move is to protect the forest reserve from activities of galamsey operators hunting and logging, among others.
Speaking to The Ghanaian Times at the launch of a documentary on the Atiwa forest by A Rocha Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, yesterday, the Technical Director of the ministry, Musah Abu-Juam, said his outfit had commenced steps to lift the reserve to a national park.
He said together with some agencies, they had commenced education and consultation with the chiefs and people of the area for their support since it would mean that the owners of the land would not be able to access the place when turned into a national park.
However, he said, since the forest would be turned into an ecotourism park it would generate money out of which the owners of the land would be paid royalties and job opportunities created for the indigenes.
Abu-Juam told the paper that upon reaching a consensus with the people, a cabinet memorandum would be produced for onward submission to Parliament to officially change the status of the Atiwa forest and protect it for the people of Ghana.
The Secretary at the Netherlands Embassy, Fred Smeit, said they supported the project due to the importance of the forest to the lives of the people.
He said when proper measures were not put in place to protect the forest, about five million people in the Eastern and Greater Accra Regions would be denied access to potable water.
He urged the media to lead the advocacy to sensitise the citizenry against the gradual destruction of the forest.
The National Director for A Rocha Ghana, Seth Appiah-Kubi, said for the country to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Goal Six on Water and Sanitation, every citizen had to play a part in protecting the environment and water bodies.
By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme