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Regional News of Saturday, 7 June 2014

Source: NGOs

NGOs joint statement on the celebration of World Environmental Day

Ghana joins the rest of the world Thursday, 5th June 2014 to mark this year’s world environment day celebrations. The theme for this year is “Raise your voice and not sea level”. This theme seeks to draw the attention of world leaders to the devastating effects of destroying biodiversity as well as letting econometric consideration override the need to conserve or protect the environment. The overall net effect of this action is the global climate change.

Ghana is not on the same scale with developed countries on the emission of greenhouse gases, however, as a nation we look more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Numerous studies have predicted that cocoa production would decrease substantially by the year 2080. Also water scarcity would hit the country among a host of other negative consequences associated with climate change.

For instance it has been estimated that the total forest cover of Ghana has reduced from 88,000 km2 in 1938 to between 15,800 km2 and 17,200 km2 at present. A study by the World Bank (2002) has revealed that Populations of wildlife species within the savannah have dwindled as a result of increased human and livestock populations, agricultural expansion, inappropriate farming practices, road construction, bush burning and deforestation.The reduction in forest cover has resulted in habitat loss which is important for the maintenance and protection of biological diversity.

We are unhappy about government engaging in policy contradictions and violating national laws, visions and regulations anddemand that government should as a matter of urgency revoke the mining right granted to all mining companies in the country to mine in forest reserves. For example, as we speak now, government has granted mining right to Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and SAVACEM to mine gold in the AdjenuaBepo Forest Reserve and SAVACEM to mine Limestone in the Yokumbra Forest Reserve near Buipe . We further call on government to stop granting exploration rights to companies in the country within protected areas.

For example, government has also granted mining exploration right to mining companies to explore for gold near the Mole National Park. Mining in forest reserves contravenes certain provisions in the National Land Policy developed by the Ministry of Lands and Forestry in 1999. Section 4.5(a) of the National Land Policy states that, “To ensure the conservation of environmental quality, no land with primary forest cover will be cleared for the purpose of establishing a forest or tree crop plantation or mining activity”.

The National Land Policy of 1999 states further in Section 4.4(b) that, “All lands declared as forest reserves , strict nature reserves , national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and similar land categories constitute Ghana’s permanent forest reserves and wildlife estates , and are ‘fully protected’ for ecosystem maintenance , biodiversity conservation and sustainable timber production”.

Historically, mining companies have not been able to rehabilitate mined off reserves according to best practices suitable to tropical forests. We thus question the capacity of mining companies to rehabilitate forest reserves after undertaking surface mining operations and destroying the rich biodiversity of these forest reserves. We wish to call on government to halt attempts to de?gazette portions of Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBA) in the Western Region in particular and other areas to allow for logging.

In the spirit of the theme for this year’s celebration of the World Environment Day, we are requesting Ghanaians especially Organised Labour, Faith-based organisations, NGOs, Traditional Leaders and Youth Groups to raise their voices on environmental issues and demand actions from government that would place environmental protection on the same level of importance as economic issues.

Signed

For: Wacam - Hannah Owusu-Koranteng

For: Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) - S. K. Obiri Yeboah

For: Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) - Augustine Niber

For: Youth for Action Ghana (YAG) - James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr

For: Centre for Social Impact Studies (CESIS) - Richard Elimah

For: Humanity Focus Foundation (HFF) - Precious Mattah Agbeko

For: Gender and Environmental Monitoring Advocate - Alvina Sena Adzobu

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