Preserve integrity of Achimota Forest Reserve

The government has refuted claims that the Achimota Forest Reserve has been sold.

The refuting of the claims and associated explanations are timely and important because such have absolved the government of wrongdoing and also set the minds and hearts of the Ghanaians at rest that, at least, it is doing its best to preserve state property and resource.

In a Ghanaian Times story yesterday, the government described the report as false, baseless and non-factual and gave some explanations of issues regarding the current status of the forest reserve.

The government says through the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (E.I 144), has made the peripheral portions of the Forest Reserve, which had already been granted to the pre-acquisition land owners, 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 other words, the original size of the forest reserve land the state acquired by Order 31 of 1930 has reduced.

Does it mean the area originally acquired was too big to be managed as a reserve or the Forestry Commission under whose ambit the reserve falls neglected its responsibility, thereby creating the opportunity for the Owoo Family to request some of the land that originally belonged to them?

The Owoo Family was smart enough to make that request, particularly in the face of scarcity of land in Accra and the fact that some politicians have the proclivity to hijack state lands.

There are issues about the Achimota Forest Reserve that need particular attention so that the purpose of the forest reserve would not be compromised.

It would be recalled that in 2013 there were similar rumours that the then President John Mahama had given an Executive approval for the sale of the Achimota forest to a private company for development into eco-park to boost eco-tourism.

The government had to deny that sale rumour but in March 2017, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the then Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, granted the Ghanaian Times an interview in which he suggested that the Achimota Forest should remain as a forest reserve and so must not be turned into an eco-park.

Among his reasons, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the forest was the only greenbelt in Accra and expressed worry that it was rapidly being reduced in size as a result of encroachment and the use of portions of the land as refuse dumps by residents living nearby, leading to the initial coverage area of the forest of 500 hectares being reduced to less than 360 hectares.

At the moment, part of the Accra Zoo is relocated to the Achimota Forest, and most part of the reserve hosts prayer camps and mini-churches whose organisers collect some charges from those who patronise the services.

But should that be the case?

The Ghanaian Times supports the Forests (Achimota Firewood Plantation Forest Reserve) (Amendment) Instrument, 2022 (E.I. 154), that is meant to ensure the area of the forest remain a Forest Reserve to protect its ecological integrity.

If the government really wants to have the Achimota Forest remain an integral part of its plan for the protection of the country’s forest cover, and the overall agenda for aggressive afforestation and reforestation, then anything that compromises that goal, including all manner of encroachment must be eradicated from the forest.

A forest reserve is a state land where commercial harvesting of wood products is prohibited in order to capture elements of biodiversity that can be missing from sustainably harvested sites.

As such any activity that disturbs the survival of the animals and plants in the reserve must be prohibited, hence the prayer camps and the mini-churches and other such activities must be stopped and prohibited.

These activities call for some clearance of vegetation cover and also the noise made disturb some of the animals that are supposed to live there.

Show More
Back to top button