As the government of Ghana launched the Green Ghana Day 2024 today at Tamale in the Northern Region, environmental groups Eco-Conscious Citizens and Ghana Environment Advocacy Group, have issued a joint communique questioning the genuineness of the Government's flagship afforestation programme set for June 7. In the eyes of the two organisations, what should have been a laudable Initiative, unfortunately, appears to be a cynical public relations exercise. They said in a statement that, “on the one hand, the target is to plant ten million trees, but on the other hand, the Government is facilitating the destruction of existing forest reserves, including globally significant biodiversity areas”. “E.l. 144 has declassified parts of Achimota Forest, and L.I. 2462 is facilitating the desecration of our forests and water bodies. We must not forget that a number of our rivers take their source from our forests. For example, the Ayensu, Birim and Densu rivers take their source from Atewa Forest range and mining bauxite at Atewa will not only pollute the vegetation but also pollute the source of water of over 5 million Ghanaians”, the statement added. The statement also noted with concern the raiding of virgin forests in Gwira Banso, which is being resisted by the community and Royal Family of Banso, except the Chief. “We are informed that the Municipal Chief Executive and the Environmental Protection Agency government officials are organising a meeting on Wednesday 17th April in an attempt to push “community mining” down the throats of the community. The Eco-Conscious Citizens Friends of the Environment Manifesto clearly states that communities should have the right to reject community mining in their localities, if they choose to. After all, it is the community that will feel the brunt of the negative effects of mining”, the statement added. The group also kicked against the decision to give parts of the land belonging to the Parks and Gardens for private development. “To make matters worse, Parks and Gardens lands across Ghana are being encroached on with the complicity of highly placed persons. A portion of Parks and Gardens land at Cantonments, Accra which was acquired in 1952 for horticultural purposes for the public good is being claimed by one Rev. Dr. Ezekiel for a private estate developer. In Wa, a petrol station is being constructed on Parks and Gardens land, whilst Lands Commission claims the land has been leased to the developer. Who purported to lease a green space to a private developer to build a petrol station?” “We seem to have arsonists masquerading as firefighters. The Green Ghana initiative cannot be taken seriously until E.I 144 and L.I. 2462 are withdrawn and there is a publication of an audit of Parks and Gardens lands across Ghana, illegal buildings are removed and there is an investigation and prosecution of those who purported to lease Parks and Gardens land to developers. Community mining should be paused and the right of communities to reject community mining is enshrined”, the statement recommended.