The Minority in Parliament has emphasized the necessity for the government to annul Executive Instrument 144, which declassified sections of the Achimota Forest as a forest reserve. Additionally, the caucus is advocating for the repeal of Legislative Instrument 2462, a move that would prevent the opening of the country’s forest reserves to mining leases for extended periods, potentially up to 24 years. During the budget approval debate for the Lands and Natural Resources sector, Dr Rashid Pelpuo, the Ranking Member on the Lands and Forestry Committee, stressed the importance of the government demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding Ghana’s forest reserves. “I want to reiterate a request we made earlier to the Minister to revoke L.I 2462 on the Environmental Protection Act or to work with the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources to revoke Act L. I 2462 2022 which is allowing mining in reserve areas”. According to him, it does not sync well with the core mandate of the Ministry in protecting and ensuring that the Forestry of this country is protected and enhanced. He also expressed his worry about the low funds allocated to the Ministry as far as their work is concerned. “Mr Speaker, as the Chairman has said, we are worried about the fact that there is a problem of low release of funds and low allocation of budgetary to the ministry and we wish that this trend could be reversed. He added, “I just wish that the Minister for Finance would have been here to listen to the core fact that land defines the sovereignty of a state”.
Dr Rashid Pelpuo, the Ranking Member on the Lands and Forestry Committee
President Akufo-Addo under Executive Instrument 144 last year lifted the 1927 classification of the Achimota Forest in the Greater Accra Region as a Forest Reserve, paving the way for its redesignation, reclassification, sale, and development by other interests. The Executive Instrument was gazetted on behalf of President Akufo-Addo on 19th April, 2022 and came into effect on 1st May 2022. Per this Executive Instrument, a fourth of the original size of the gazetted forest has been chipped away. After the massive public condemnation of the decision to declassify the forest, the government kept mute on the matter until December this year when the matter was brought up again. Thus, has intercepted a letter from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, signed under the name of its minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, requesting for a masterplan for the redevelopment of the Achimota Forest. The letter, dated October 10, 2023, to the Municipal Chief Executive of the Okaikwei North Municipal Assembly, but received on November 15, said that it is seeking to do this because portions of the Achimota Forest ceased to be a forest reserve. “As you may be aware, by the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (E.I. 144), as amended by the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) (Amendment) Instrument, 2023 (E.I. 234), portions of the Achimota Forest, measuring approximately 260.06 acres or 105.25 hectares, ceased to be a forest reserve,” the statement signed by Abu Jinapor said.
The letter further requested the MCE for Okaikwei North to furnish it with a plan on how it wants to develop that portion of the forest land.
The Warning
Dr Rashid Pelpuo has however warned the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, to immediately cease any intention to turn to forest to a concrete hub. He also called for strong supervision to be conducted as far as the Country’s Natural Resources are concerned.