Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM), a grass root movement of young people across Ghana, wishes to add our voice to the numerous calls by concerned Ghanaians for the government to halt the conversion and destruction of the Achimota forest, the only green belt in Accra into an “amusement park”, which will house restaurants, parking lots and commercial infrastructure, etc.
This move is inconsiderate and runs contrary to the second guiding principle of the Ghana Forest and Wildlife Policy 2011 which has its aim as “maintaining the ecological integrity of the forest and savannah ecosystems.”
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has defended this decision based on the premise that “the project is financially viable, economically sound and environmentally sustainable”. This is indeed astonishing and we want to state categorically that:
1. Green belts are NOT conserved and preserved primarily for their financial and economic benefits. They are kept for ecological, health, recreational and educational purposes. So the idea that the Achimota forest is lying waste without any benefit is an unfortunate one;
2. Indeed, even within the walls of economics, we can prove that the forest in its natural state is worth more than any commercial project that will destroy it. Can we pay for all the ecosystem services the forest offers us? Can we pay for the worth of clean air, water, control of air pollution, erosion and flooding? What of the worth of animals it houses, as well as the fruits it provides and the beauty it gives the ecosystem?;
3. How can the cutting of trees and destruction of flora and fauna be termed “environmentally sustainable” by the Ministry?;
4. What has become of other underdeveloped but more economically viable tourists sites like the Kakum National Park, Mole National Park, etc, which are calling for further development to provide more revenue?.
We believe this action will rather exacerbate the demise of our already whittled down forest reserves and destroy its ecological integrity. We have grave doubts that turning the only green belt in the capital city into malls, restaurants car parks and commercial enclaves are in the best interest of the natural heritage of citizens of Ghana.
We urge the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission to reconsider their decision and choose people over profit and ecosystem over economics. This is not only in the best interest of the ecology but also humanity. When the last forest is destroyed and the last tree is cut down, then we will realize that we cannot eat money.
We call on government to immediately halt all attempts to destroy this important national reserve and reclaim all encroached portions of this national resource and rather protect it for
The Ghana Youth Environmental Movement will join forces with all friends of the environment and the general public to fight for the preservation and conservation of the Achimota Forest.
By Steering Group (GYEM)
Tel: 0544 744922 / 0244 951 828 /0264 760 399
Cc: Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource
Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
All Media Houses