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What the media reported in 2013, 2014 about transforming the Achimota Forest into a park

The Achimota Forest Ghana Portions of the Achimota Forest in Accra

Wed, 18 May 2022 Source:

It has emerged that the stories of the Achimota Forest, its purported privatization, the plans to turn it into a park, and the defences from the government on what exactly the real story is, are not new.

In reports that were published on GhanaWeb between 2013 and 2014, it shows how there were several attempts to have the forest turned over to private development.

Read two of those stories below:

Achimota Forest has not been sold (2013)

Government has debunked claims in some sections of the media that it has sold the Achimota Forest Reserve [Accra Eco-Park] to a private company.

Briefing newsmen in Accra, the Sector Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Inusah Fuseini said Government placed much emphasis on the development of the Reserve into a tourism attraction center.

He added that the NDC Government is committed to fulfilling its manifesto promise to reinforce the protect ion and development of national parks, forests and other wildlife protected areas to sustain biodiversity, research, education, recreation and eco-tourism.

‘’The Government will therefore not go against its own manifesto promises to destroy the Achimota Forest, but will do everything possible to ensure its long-term conservation and sustainable use for the benefit of all Ghanaians,’’ he said.

He bemoans the current status of the Achimota Forest which since its establishment in 1930 has not seen any development agenda and as a result the large chunk of the Forest has been lost to encroachers’. He mentioned that building encroachments and other unauthorized developments have taken heavy toll on the forest area.

‘’The Forest is still under serious threat from encroachers and unless some drastic measures are taken to save the rest of the forest, it might disappear in the next few years and that this NDC Government cannot afford to let the Forest to disappear’’ he cautioned.

As part of interventions to rescue the Forest from further destruction, Government since 2009 has put in more efforts through the Forestry Commission which has the mandate to maintain and develop Forests and Wildlife resources in the country.

The Commission‘s new Board therefore committed itself to reverse the ‘’ sorry’’ trend or state of not only the Achimota Forest but all wildlife resources as well as the promotion of ecotourism in Ghana.

Pursuant to the commitment, a number of protected areas and forest reserves were selected for ecotourism development. He mentioned the Achimota Forest, Cape Three Points Forest Reserve, Shai-Hills Resorce Reserve and the Ankasa Conservation Area as some of the selected forest reserves for development.

Other interventions put in place to search for success stories for the Forest and other wildlife resources include a fact finding mission to Kenya’s Nairobi National Park, stakeholder consultation to solicit professional inputs , Ministerial briefing and proposal development led by the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission to propose development of the Achimota Forest into the Accra Eco-Park.

The proposal outlined the development of safari walks, eco-lodges, game viewing points, religious enclaves, cultural village, orchards and visitor reception amongst others as part of the Eco- Park. ‘’ All these were designed to ensure that the ecological integrity of the forest is not compromised’’.

He explained that to ensure that all the interventions were environmentally friendly, Environmental Impact Assessment [IEA] would be carried out before the various developments are carried out and as such both the Environmental Protection Agency[EPA] and the Ghana Tourist Authority[GTA] were part of the planning process.

The proposed Accra Eco-Park Project, the Minister said has enormous potential to bring lots of benefit to many Ghanaians in general and residents of the city of Accra.

The Project will also save the Forest from further encroachment, create jobs, provide private sector with major investment opportunities in terms of the development of the ecotourism infrastructure as well as generates a huge source of revenue to government without compromising the ecological integrity of the forest reserve.

Alhaji Inusah Fuseni called on all Ghanaians, the media in particular to partner the Government in its bid to create necessary awareness and educate the public on the importance and benefits of the Accra Eco-Park.

Achimota Forest into Eco-Tourist Park: Mischief makers’ plans flop (2014)

The mischief that commenced over a simple announcement by government that a segment of the Achimota Forest in Accra was going to be developed into an Eco-tourist park has fallen flat.

Immediately the announcement was made, certain figures including politicians, started accusing government officials of trying to sell the forest to private persons to develop some super structures.

The perpetrators of the heinous agenda nearly succeeded, but as it stands now, majority of Ghanaians have come to appreciate the importance of the Eco-tourism.

Initially, the mischief makers nearly succeeded in pitching those who use the forest for prayers and other religious activities against the government and the Forestry Commission. Today, worshipers have come to appreciate the project and are happier with the fact that a portion has been earmarked as a spiritual enclave.

The mischievous persons made the worshipers understand that they would be thrown out of the forest because of the park.

A visit to the forest and interactions with some worshipers point to the fact that they have embraced the project and are looking forward for its commencement.

Yesterday, The Enquirer newspaper spoke to a number of worshipers who said they now have a proper understanding of the project based on their interaction with officials of the Forestry commission.

According to them, the religious enclave thing within the park would make the whole project unique and that was an indication that those handling the project have the worshipers at heart.

The move to have the Eco-park did not start under that National Democratic Congress (NDC), but under the erstwhile Kufuor administration.

What the current administration sought to do was to continue from where Kufuor's administration left because the development of the Eco-park has been realized to be a profitable venture and would not destroy the forest as it is being portrayed.

The park, to be called Accra Eco Park, would not be different from other Eco-parks around the world, especially like those in Kenya, where thousands of tourists troop to every year.

The Accra Eco-Park is expected to generate over $86,441,905 in the first year of operations, leveling off at $230,937,836 in the 10th year of operations.

Shockingly, persons who have had the opportunity to travel to Kenya and other countries with such parks are the very persons peddling lies about what is to become of the forest in the near future.

Documents of study that went into the project available to 'The Enquirer' indicate that the Accra Eco-Park will contribute to the improvement of Eco-Tourism and hospitality industries with the introduction of such a major park in West Africa with technology savvy facilities, amenities and innovation in amusement and recreational activities.

The study into the project concluded that, considering the viability of the project, the Forestry Commission should be offered the necessary support for the establishment of the Accra Eco-Park.

In that study, it came out that the project was economically sound and environmentally sustainable and will contribute towards the creation of jobs, business development and would help in the maintenance and enhancement of the Achimota Forest to the education on wildlife and nature conversation awareness, and to augment the budget of the Forestry Commission.

It will also contribute the projects quota towards the economic development of Ghana.

During Kufuor’s administration, there were wild rumors the administration had sold the forest to some foreigners to construct a shopping mall, when indeed it was for the Eco-park.

The late Professor Evans Atta Mills was also reported have approved of the project after he was fully briefed about it.

The government will not have to bring a pesewa on board to see the project through as funding would come from private partners.

A different set of documents gleaned by The Enquirer indicates that a fraction of the forest would be used for the project.

Again, no structure currently on portions of the forest would be touched as those kicking against the important project want the world to believe.

As a matter of fact, an area within the forest has been allocated as a spiritual enclave for religious activities.

In addition to that, other portions of the forest have been ceded to the allodia owners of the forest, although compensations were paid to them when the British acquired the place during the colonial days.

Minister of Land and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini at a press conference late last year in Accra, said the government will not go against its manifesto promise to reinforce the protection and management of national parks, forest and other wildlife protected areas to sustain biodiversity, research, education, recreation and Eco-tourism.

According to the minister, the move to develop the Eco-park was to save the forest from further destruction. Alhaji Fuseini, who sounded worried, said it was unfortunate that those raising the false alarm had not found it necessary to approach the ministry for explanation.

Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, Presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) in the 2012 elections, is among those raising alarm on the forest.

He, in particular, went ahead to accuse President John Mahama of taking steps to destroy the forest. But Alhaji Fuseini told the press that the development of Eco-park would benefit the country and no other country.

“The proposed Accra Eco-Park project has enormous potential to bring lots of benefits to many Ghanaians in general and residents of Accra in particular. We shall save the forest from further encroachment, and jobs opportunities will be created,” he said.

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