The Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Opanin has pledged to ensure the restoration of the Atewa forest reserve and the degraded environment in the area by planting more trees.

He said, the Atewa forest has been affected by the activities of illegal miners over the years and it is imperative that, the trend is reversed urgently in order to protect livelihoods and biodiversity.

"There is an urgent need to reverse the trend and return our forest resources, and destroyed environment as much as possible, back to its original state and we have to act now," he emphasized.

Okyenhene Amoatia Ofori Opanin said this on Friday when he took part in the tree planting exercise dubbed the ‘Green Ghana Project” where five million trees were planted nationwide.

He noted that, reversing the trend demands tree planting and proper monitoring, assuring that, the traditional authority would play a key role in the sustainability of the project.

“It behoves on us to restore the Atewa forest back into its original state after the illegal miners have destroyed some of the trees, so that the unborn generation will also have a nice place and environment to stay in when they come”, he added.

He said, the tree planting initiative is now a competition among the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies and each one of them wants to emerge as the winner. “So, I will urge everybody in this locality to take part and plant a tree”, he appealed.

He stressed that the tree planting exercise would not be a one-off event and would continue planting them.

Okyenhene Amoatia Ofori Opanin revealed that, even though government is promising to plant five million trees, the Okyeman Traditional Council also has its tree planting programme to complement government effort.

A treasure of biodiversity

Located in Ghana’s Eastern Region, Atewa Forest forms part of the threatened Upper Guinea Forest, one of the world’s global biodiversity hotpots. Atewa Forest is a Protected Forest Reserve, a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), and meets the conditions for Alliance for Zero Extinction status.

The forest is home to many endangered, endemic and rare plants and animals, over 100 of which are threatened or near threatened with extinction.

Four species are listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, and many more as vulnerable. The forest is also home to five species believed to be endemic to the forest, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth.

The forest is also the source for the Birim, Densu and Ayensu rivers, which provide water for some five million people, including residents of the capital, Accra.