As the government spends millions of cedis planting trees to protect the environment, the Aburi Botanical Gardens has rather come under serious threat, especially, its forest reserve, following the Akuapem South District Assembly complex.
So far, about two acres of the forest reserve have been destroyed through the cutting down of trees by the Assembly, led by its Chief Executive, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.
The incident, which occurred in early March this year, has brought animosity among the staff at the gardens, the District Chief Executive, and the entire people of Aburi, with the indigenes swearing to put their blood on the line to protect the forest reserve.
It all started when the DCE, Mr. Afari-Gyan, on Friday, March 7, 2014, stormed the forest reserve with chain saw operators, and directed them to cut down the timber species, in preparation for the proposed Assembly complex.
Mr. Afar-Gyan, The Chronicle learnt, had earlier proposed to the Minister of Local Government & Rural Development, Akwasi Oppong-Fosu, during his recent visit to the Aburi Botanical Gardens, to develop portion of the forest reserve for the Assembly’s office complex.
But the Minister, cautious of the implications of the said proposal, directed him (Mr. Afari-Gyan) to engage the traditional authorities of Aburi, the custodians of the land, and authorities of the Department of Parks and Gardens, under whose care the Aburi Botanical Gardens operates, to see how best they could arrive at a decision in getting a piece of land for the said project.
But Mr. Afari-Gyan, for unknown reasons, took the law into his own hands without engaging any of the above mentioned authorities and took the Assembly’s surveyors to study and demarcate a portion of the 172-year-old forest reserve for the project.
The demarcation was followed by the clearing of the timber species and other medicinal plants on the piece of land for the Assembly complex.
In the course of clearing the land, a security man at the place raised the alarm, leading to the arrest of the chainsaw operators, who were later handed over to the police for interrogation.
However, about an hour after their arrest and subsequent detention, Mr. Afari-Gyan went and bailed them, with the explanation that he ordered them to encroach on the forest reserve,