The Forestry Commission (FC) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) have sent a notice to the Akuapem South District Chief Executive (DCE), Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, warning him not to encroach on the Aburi Botanical Gardens Forest Reserve, since the area serves as a wildlife habitat.
The notice, The Chronicle learnt, was sent to the DCE through the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, the sector ministry under, which Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) operate.
Following the publication of The Chronicle’s expose of the destruction of the Aburi Botanical Gardens Forest Reserve by Mr. Afari-Gyan, institutions that matter in the scheme of things have acted accordingly, and initiated moves to further protect the resources, which is the livewire for the people of Aburi.
On May 15, 2014, personnel from the Forestry Commission visited the Aburi Botanical Gardens to assess the level of destruction done to the forest reserve e and submit a report to their superiors for onward action.
The personnel, according to deep throat sources, were not happy about their observations, and ordered the DCE of the area to immediately halt any plans of developing a portion of the forest reserve into an office complex for the Akuapem South District Assembly, since the area serves as a wildlife habitat.
They also advised Mr. Afari-Gyan to inform his sector minister to officially write to the Forestry Commission for a permit, if the Assembly wants to develop a portion of the reserve into an office complex.
Any person bidding for timber rights is required by the Forest Laws & Regulations to seek audience with the sector minister, in consultation with the commission.
L.I. 1721 Timber Resources Management (Amendment) Regulations, 2003, 10(1) says: “An applicant seeking pre-qualification for grant timber rights shall obtain an application form for completion from the Commission, upon payment of such fees as the Minister, in consultation with the Commission, may determine.”
It is, however, not clear what punitive action would be taken against the DCE for cutting down the timber species in the forest reserve, without obtaining the necessary documentation from the Forest Commission. Key among the timber species felled by the DCE include; Emire, Esia, Ofram and Dahoma (Local names).
The country’s 8.2 million hectares of forest reserve a century ago, as declined to the current 1.5 million hectares. That means, about 90% of its forest cover has been depleted, while the remaining 10% is still under pressure.
Furthermore, the personnel The Chronicle learnt, suggested to the authorities of the Aburi Botanical Gardens to claim the destroyed area by replanting some tress, but such recommendations are subject to approval by the leadership of the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development.
The Forestry Commission is the institution responsible for the regulation of utilization of forest and wildlife resources, the conservation and management of that resource and the coordination of policies related to them. Representatives of the EPA, The Chronicle understands, also visited the Aburi Botanical Gardens on Thursday, May 22, 2014, to assess the level of destruction done to the forest reserve.
They were equally not enthused about their observations, and have since submitted a report to their leaders for appropriate action to be taken. Deep throat sources within the EPA said the action of the DCE was against all environmental laws and regulations of the land, and have recommended to the sector minister to ensure that the DCE and the Assembly bear the cost of reclaiming the destroyed portion of the forest reserved.
The EPA is the public institution given the responsibility of regulating the environment, and ensuring the implementation of Government policies on the environment.
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