The Atewa Range Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region, established as a national forest reserve in 1926 and later designated as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) and an Important Bird Area (IBA), is now under serious threat of degradation.
Government has, therefore, been called upon to rescind all plans and decisions to turn the Atewa Range of Forest Reserves into a mine.
Addressing a news conference in Accra, yesterday, Daryl Bosso, Spokesperson of the Coalition of NGOs Against Mining in Atewa (CONAMA), said mining activities in the country were putting great pressure on Ghana’s forests.
Mr Bosso said aware of the benefits of mining, the Coalition of NGOs Against Mining in Atewa (CONAMA) was only drawing attention to actions which would bring hardship to communities living in the catchment area of Atewa.
He said if mining was allowed in the reserve, the already strained water supply system in Accra would eventually become even more severe, considering that the Weija dam got its supply from the Atewa Forest Range and negatively affect those whose livelihoods depended on the invaluable services that Atewa Forests provided.
He said, the more reason why Atewa forest should not be mined was because, Atewa was one of Ghana’s two upland evergreen forest reserves which assumed a great role on the landscape as a repository of biodiversity, forests, wildlife and water resources of local, regional and international appeal and supports an exceptional number of plant species not found elsewhere in Ghana with over 150 different species.
Mr Bosso said the Atewa forest had long been recognized as a nationally important reserve since its mountains contained the headwaters of three river systems— the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers— which served as the source of drinking water to a large number of people in some parts of Accra, Oda, Kade and Koforidua.
The Coalition, therefore, reminded government to renew its commitments the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 1968.
The Coalition also urged government to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Ghana, by doing whatever it took to protect and secure Atewa Range Forests.
The Coalition also urged the general public, corporate organizations and faith-based institution to work with them and support the call against mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve.
Narrating the importance of Atewa Forest Reserve, Mrs Hannah Owusu Koranteng said mining remained a key industry for the growth and development of a country, bringing in foreign exchange earnings, employment generation, mineral royalties as well as employee income taxes payment.
“We are not oblivious of the benefits of mining and do not stand opposed to mining, except when it has to do with arguably ‘Ghana’s most valuable’ and ecological sensitive forest like the Atewa forest reserve”, she added.
The media encounter was organized by a Coalition of NGOs, namely Rocha Ghana, Centre for Impact Analysis, Rainforest Friends Ghana, and Save The Frogs Ghana to commemorate the opening of the second Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The theme for the meeting was “The future we want— Our forests for biodiversity, livelihood and quality of life”.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney & Nancy Krampah)