The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel AbdulaiJinapor, has refuted claims that the Achimota Forest Reserve has been sold saying the report is false, baseless and non-factual.
Rather, he said the government, through the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (E.I 144), had made the peripheral portions of the Forest Reserve, which had already been granted to the Owoo Family in September, 2013 cease to be a Forest Reserve, to ensure a development that was consistent with the area of the Forest Reserve.
In addition to that, he explained that Forests (Achimota Firewood Plantation Forest Reserve) (Amendment) Instrument, 2022 (E.I. 154), was also promulgated to ensure the area of the forest remained a Forest Reserve.
Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, Mr Jinapor said both instruments contained adequate provisions that sought to protect the ecological integrity of the Forest Reserve.
He explained that Achimota Forest remained an integral part of government’s plan for the protection of Ghana’s forest cover, and the overall agenda for aggressive afforestation and reforestation.
“Government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, will continue to protect the Achimota Forest and prevent it from being further encroached.
Government is also committed to ensuring that whatever that happens on the peripheral portions of the land, does not affect the ecological integrity of the Forest,” he added.
Detailing government’s reasons to declassify the peripheral parts of the AchimotaForest Reserve as a reserve through the Executive Instruments, he said following several encroachments on the Forest Reserve, the pre-acquisition owners, the Owoo Family, had since 2007 petitioned successive governmentS for the release of the portion of the Forest Reserve adjoining the Tema motorway.
“After consultations between the Office of President and the relevant bodies, it was recommended that that portion of the Forest Reserve be released to the Owoo Family.
This culminated in an Agreement dated November 24, 2008 between the Government, acting by the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, and the Owoo Family for the grant of a lease over 90 acres of the land to the Owoo Family for a term of 99 years. The Lease agreement was however not executed as agreed,” he stated.
The Minister said former President John Mahama, in September 2013, gave Executive Approval for the conversion of the Forest Reserve into an Ecotourism Park, and to release the peripheral portions of the Forest Reserve to the Owoo Family.
Pursuant to the said Executive Approval, he said the Forestry Commission granted these portions of the Forest Reserve to the Owoo Family for a term of 99 years.
“The Family then registered the land in its name and granted sub-leases to other private developers with the consent of the Forestry Commission.
However, because the land remained a Forest Reserve, by virtue of Order 31 of 1930, the lessees and sub-lessees could not develop the land, although they had obtained all the necessary permits,” Mr Jinapor added.
He explained that the Owoo Family and their grantees, in a bid to develop the peripheral portions of the land which had already been granted to them, continued to petition government to release of the peripheral portions as a Forest Reserve.
Government, the Minister said, after assessing the entire situation, and based on the advice of the Forestry Commission, that the ecological integrity of the Forest Reserve would not be compromised by the release, decided to release the peripheral portions of the land from the Forest Reserve.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS