Lands Ministry denies sale of Achimota Forest

Forest1Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, says the Achimota Forest will never be sold under the National Democratic Congress government.

Rather, the government would reinforce the protection and management of the national parks, forests and other wildlife protected areas to sustain biodiversity, research, education, recreation and eco-tourism.

Alhaji Fuseini was reacting to recent publications and discussions in sections of the media which created the impression that government had taken steps to destroy the Achimota Forest Reserve at a press conference in Accra on Thursday.

“Contrary to claims in sections of the media that Achimota Forest has been sold to private developer, I am to inform you that the government had taken no such decision”, Alhaji Fuseini pointed out.

He said even though the forest was under serious threat of encroachment, government would do all that it takes to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the Achimota Forest to benefit all Ghanaians.

Alhaji Fuseini gave the assurance that the reserve would be developed into a major eco-tourism facility to safeguard it from further encroachment and other unauthorised activities.

“We are convinced that if the Achimota Forest Reserve is developed into a eco-tourism destination such as the Kakum National Park which rolled in 240,000 dollars from 120,000 tourists, it would help provide more benefits for the economy and the city of Accra”, he said.

The proposed development plan would include  safari walks, eco-lodges, game viewing points, religious enclaves, cultural village, arboretum, orchards and visitor reception which would be implemented under public/private partnership.

Alhaji Fuseini said Cabinet had approved the plan and a Strategy Development Committee formed to come out with an implementation strategy for the project.

He said since its establishment, no development agenda had been put in place for the forest, causing the loss of a large chunk of the forest land, about 135 hectares to urban development.

He said the forest had been turned to a refuse dumping area, while building encroachment and other unauthorised developments had taken a heavy toll on the forest area.

A portion of the forest, he explained, was serving as a Wildlife Rescue Centre for the animals that were moved away from the former Accra Zoo, while many religious bodies had used the reserve as prayer grounds.

The Achimota Forest Reserve was established in 1930 to serve as a woodlot of neem trees to provide fuel wood for the Achimota Secondary School and also serve as a green belt to buffer the school against the development of the city of Accra.

It was also to provide a place for recreation, education and scientific research for students. The original area put under reservation was 494.95 hectares.

Source: GNA

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