Alhaji Alhassan Sayibu Suhiyini, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North, has called on President Akufo-Addo to consider revoking the Executive Instrument (EI)144, declassifying portions of the Achimota Forest as no longer forest reserves.
Contributing to a statement on the International Day of Forests 2023, delivered on the Floor of Parliament on Tuesday by Mr Benito Owusu Bio, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Suhiyini said it was in breach of the provisions of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016, (Act 925).
He called on the Government to deepen consultation and engagement around forest conservation.
The EI 144, which was gazetted on April 19, 2022, indicated that the area ceases to be recognised as a forest reserve from May 1, 2022.
A copy of the document read: “The President is satisfied that the land specified is no longer required as a forest reserve and has indicated that the ecological integrity of an adjoining forest reserve should be protected.”
“The District Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority with jurisdiction over the land specified in the schedule, shall, within three months after the coming into force of this instrument, prepare for the approval of the Minister of Lands, a master plan for the development of the land…,” it said.
Alhaji Suhiyini urged the President to support Mr Henry Quartey, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, in the fight against encroachment on the Ramsar Site and pay “the arrears allegedly owed to men and women in the afforestation programme.”
Mr Owusu Bio, the MP for Atwima Nwabiagya, said the 2023 International Forests Day, under the global theme: “Forests and Health” called for giving, not just taking, because healthy forests would bring healthy people.
He said forest sustainable management and the use of resources were key to combating climate change and contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations.
“Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet despite all these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, forests are endangered by fires, pests, droughts, and unprecedented deforestation.
“Forests give us so much to our health. They purify the water, clean the air, capture carbon to fight climate change, provide food and life-saving medicines, and improve our well-being,” he said.
Mr Owusu Bio called for the safeguarding of the natural resources the country was endowed with.
As part of the awareness creation on the day, a weeklong programme was held for students.
The 2023 Green Ghana Day Project, a national afforestation and reforestation programme to restore the lost forest cover, and to contribute to global efforts at mitigating climate change, would be launched in April by the President, he said.
The maiden edition was held on June 11, 2021, where an estimated seven million tree seedlings were planted across the nation.
Mrs Gizella Tetteh-Agbotui, MP for Awutu-Senya West, called on the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources to be proactive in getting forest benefits for the country, monitoring air quality as well as environmental benefits of the forests.
Other MPs called for pragmatic measures towards the sustainability of the country’s forest reserves and the proper utilisation of their resources.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests in 2012 to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests.
Countries were encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organise activities involving tree planting campaigns and nurturing.
The campaign is carried out by the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and other relevant organisations.