Tamale forest reserve under threat
2010-02-24 20:47:59This article has been read 1353 times.At a time when the global community is concerned about climate change and stresses the need to preserve forest resources, forest reserves in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, are being depleted.
The metropolis has three officially documented forest reserves, and all face threats of extinction as a result of undue encroachment on various portions of those reserves.
One of such is the Tamale Waterworks Forest Reserve, which faces greater threat, since it is located in the centre of the city.
Investigations conducted by the Daily Graphic revealed that all sides of this reserve, known widely as the Aboabo Forest, have seriously been encroached upon, thereby reducing its size.
Designated as a reserve in 1956, it originally occupied 138.64 hectares. Today, several parts have been used for purposes other than conservation or natural resource development. Its eastern end is where the Timber Market for the metropolis has been situated.
In addition, a basic school, a fuel station, a transport station and several auto mechanic shops have also been established on this portion of the reserve.
In the run-up to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2008, the north-western part of the forest was apportioned for the, construction of the Tamale Sports Stadium and other facilities.
Already, the northern part has been allocated for the establishment of offices for the Ghana broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and a Volta River authority (VRA) sub-station.
On the southern periphery of the Aboabo Forest, various structures, such as billboards and stores, have been raised, most being wooden and a few being built with concrete.
Indeed, one of the concrete buildings that is still under construction has a warning scripted on it: "Remove, by TMA."
Meanwhile, the forest is still being used as a place of convenience and a lumping site by residents living nearby.
Also, wee smokers and criminals use the forest for their nefarious activities, which put it at risk of catching fire from cigarette butts.
From all indications, if the situation is not checked, very soon the Aboabo Forest will become history.
Yet, it is the presence of this forest that provides some fresh air and some form of protection for residents living in surrounding areas such as Zobgeli; Nyohini, Education Ridge and Aboabo.
Investigations conducted by this paper also revealed that the encroachment was being encouraged by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) and some traditional rulers around the forest area.
Some people also pointed accusing fingers at the Forestry Services Department (FSD), saying it was collecting fees and allowing people to encroach on the reserve.
In an interview, the Northern Regional Manager of the FSD, Mr Ebenezer Djaney Djagbletey, denied allegations that his outfit was encouraging the destruction of forest resources.
"There is some level of encroachment which is permitted. In such eases, permits are given and the people involved pay some fees to the Forestry Department and the TMA." He explained.
He said the commission had, on several occasions, taken some action to stop undue encroachment of forest reserves but it faced stiff opposition from some key people in the metropolis.
He gave an assurance that the FSD would work towards fencing the reserve to prevent further encroachment.
Commenting on this negative development, the Northern Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Alhassan Abu, said encroachment on forest reserves would gradually lead to the depletion of forest resources.
That, he explained, would occur when human beings introduced non-biodegradable materials into the forest i area, which would consequently destroy the soil fertility and impede plant growth.
Recently, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission (FC) launched the National Forest Plantation Development Prqramme.
The project seeks to address the current deforestation problems in Ghana through the establishment of wood lots and forest tree plantations, the rehabilitation of mangrove forest, and urban forestry, among others.
The question that arises is: If we cannot preserve the few forest resources that we have, what is the guarantee that the new ones we are creating will see the light of day?