The Association said the (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (EI 144) “has not got any power to declassify any forest reserve,” arguing that it was only Parliament that had the power to do so.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Isaac Bampoe-Addo, the Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, said per the dictates of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925), it was only Parliament that could approve the rezoning or declassification of a forest reserve and not the President.
“The E.I. that has been passed has no effect. It has not got any power to declassify any forest reserve, and we want to say that it is the responsibility of Parliament to ensure this responsibility is carried out,” he stressed.
The E.I. 144 gazetted on April 19, 2022, indicates that portions of the Achimota Forest ceases to be recognised as a forest reserve from May 1, 2022 – a move that has received widespread condemnation.
Section 93 (1) of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 indicates that, “Where a person seeks to change the zoning of the whole or part of a piece of land, that person shall apply in writing to the District Spatial Planning Committee of the district t, which the change relates in the form prescribed in the zoning regulations and planning standards.”
Section 93(4) says: “… the change of use or re-zoning of a public space shall be subjected to approval by Parliament. “
Section 198 of the Act interprets “Public Space” as: “a generally open area accessible to and used by the public including resource lands, urban utility space, riparian buffer zones, natural park areas, forests, urban parks, recreational areas, infrastructure right of way, areas of cultural or historical interests”
Mr Bampoe-Addo said the Association was considering meeting the Speaker of Parliament to officially draw his attention to the matter.
“Parliament should play its role and do the work that they are supposed to do,” he said.
The E.I. 144 since its publication has been met with strong opposition, with civil society organisations operating in the environment and climate change sectors expressing fear that the move could open the forest to all forms of development, which could affect the integrity of the area as a forest reserve.
The Government has explained that its intention was to reforest and develop the Achimota Forest into a true forest reserve to serve Accra and the people of Ghana.