Friday, July 12, 2024

Ghanaians launch online petition to stop mining in key forest reserve

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Ghanaians are signing onto an online petition launched to stop the mining of bauxite in one of the country’s key forest reserves, the Atewa Forest.

Environmentalists in Ghana have been fighting the government over the decision to allow for the mining of bauxite in the Atewa Forest.

For months there has been a movement pushing for the intended exercise to be halted by Ghana’s government in order to save the forest that is home to many rare wildlife and plant species.

Ghanaian environmental groups like ARocha Ghana, Wildlife Society of Ghana, Rainforest Trust, Friends of the Earth-Ghana argue that there is a variety of ecosystem service and other benefits that supersede the financial gains the country may derive from mining bauxite in the forest in the short term.

The groups are also accusing the government of seeking to sacrifice what they term “irreplaceable forest and water sources for 5 million people for Chinese-linked bauxite mine.”

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Letter of protest to President

Some local and international civil society organizations have already petitioned the President of Ghana to abort the idea of allowing for mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve.

In a joint letter dated on the 6th of July 2018, the organizations highlighted the importance of keeping the reserve in its current state.

Among other things the President’s attention was drawn to the fact that the Atewa Forest is home to at least 50 mammal species, more than 1,000 species of plants, at least 230 species of birds and more than 570 butterflies.

Some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Mining Atewa Forest for bauxite, the main ingredient in aluminium, would push a number of species even closer to extinction, including the endangered white-naped mangabey, the critically endangered Togo slippery frog, and the Afia Birago puddle frog, which was only discovered in 2017.

Online Petition

Without any signal government will let go mining in the forest, an online petition has now been launched with thousands of Ghanaians signing to put pressure on their government to review its decision.

But the environmentalists contend the move “would destroy the forest – one of the world’s Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) and home to more than 100 globally threatened species.

Designated as a Forest Reserve in 1926, the Atewa forest is also a critical water source, housing the headwaters of the Birim, Densu and Ayensu rivers, which provide water to local communities as well as millions of people downstream, including in the capital, Accra.”

Government of Ghana is seeking to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest Reserve in a deal which will see the country benefit from $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects from the China Development Bank in exchange for the mineral.

The Sino-hydro barter deal which was approved by a one sided Parliament following a boycott from the minority, according to government is expected to address the road infrastructure deficit in the West African Nation.

Although the first tranche of the money; $500 million is yet to be released, movements have already started in clearing access roads into the Atewa Forest Reserve for commencement of the bauxite mining.




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