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Opinions of Sunday, 19 June 2016

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh

Must we cut our nose to spite our face?

Development comes in many forms, but nobody subscribes to development that rather inflicts pain on the beneficiaries.

That is why many people still condemn the incidence of unregulated and illegal mining, called “galamsey”, because it only ends up irreparably destroying the environment because of the unorthodox methods used.

Sustainable development is key to any change that is made to improve the lives of people, with future generations in mind, otherwise the purpose of such development will be defeated.

It is the reason countries worldwide insist that before any change is made on the natural environment, the potential impact must be assessed and communicated to all stakeholders through the conduct of an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

The EIA is meant as a guide to any development and determines whether the development must be stopped entirely because of its repercussions on the environment and on human life or that it must be modified to suit the prevailing conditions.

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has warned that the development of the Achimota Forest, the only remaining forest in Accra, into an ecotourism site will result in disastrous consequences for the country.

According to the Director-General of the NDPC, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, such development would only result in the cutting of trees which provide the needed oxygen and also result in more floods that have the potential to affect the N1 Highway.

But the NDPC boss is not alone in his concern over tampering with the forest for any form of development.

On April 26, this year, four Ghanaians sued the government over its decision to cede the 16.2 square kilometre Achimota Forest Reserve to a foreign investor for ecotourism.

The importance of trees, and by extension forests, to the sustenance of life cannot be overemphasised. Apart from providing food, medicine and material for the furniture and construction industry, trees also preserve lives by taking away carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and producing oxygen, which we need.

That is why we believe that the concerns expressed over the development of the Achimota Forest must not be taken lightly but heeded to.

In our desire to develop our cities, we have destroyed all our green belts. Even trees that lined the median that divides our roads are no more; instead we have pavements all over, from suburb to suburb and city to city.

It is all buildings wherever one turns and the greenery that absorbs excess water is all gone. But apart from the aesthetic beauty that trees and shrubs provide, they also make us enjoy good health and weather.

No wonder there are massive floods whenever it rains and the sun is unbearable in the dry season.

We don’t only need to protect the ecology of Achimota and surrounding areas by leaving the forest intact; we also believe it is time for us all to revise our notes on development.

Let us protect what is left of our forests and trees and insist on landscaping and the planting of trees whenever we want to embark on any form of development.

We urge the ministries of Lands and Natural Resources and Tourism, as well as the Forestry Commission, to take any plans of ecotourism to already developed national parks such as the Kakum National Park and the Shai Hills to curtail any untoward impact on lives in our cities and towns.