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General News of Saturday, 1 June 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Don’t mine in Atewa forest; make it a National Park – Christian Council to government

The Christian Council of Ghana has advised the government not to go ahead with its plan to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest, which is Ghana’s largest surviving rainforest.

In a letter to the presidency in March 2019, the Council said while it acknowledges the need for economic development including robust national infrastructure, it believes that it is not worth the destruction of Atewa forest, which provides water for five million Ghanaians.

“While we understand your commitment attached to your discipline to accelerate development in Ghana for economic prosperity through the development of an integrated bauxite industry, there is the need to tread cautiously in order not to destroy the jewel in the crown of our Forest Reserves and an Heritage from God which provides water for 5 million Ghanaians.”

The letter, which was signed by the Council’s General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Cyril G.K. Foyose, added that water is becoming scarce all over the world and there is a need for Ghana to protect its water and all irreplaceable resources to ensure posterity’s supply.

The Council proposed that the government should make the forest a National Park which will be in line with the President’s numerous assertions of his commitment to the protection of the environment.

“If you make the forest a National Park, your commitment to a sustainable future for Ghana and your leadership in protecting its environment will be an example to the world...The empirical evidence for the proposed National Park and green investment agenda would be a progressive, commendable and enduringly positive legacy for your government and for the people of Ghana,” the letter said.

“The extraction of bauxite will undoubtedly require the forest to be removed since the deposits are only within the top few meters of the horizon and spread over a wide area. The resulting landscape will be impossible to restore to its former condition because the organic layer will be removed during the mining and it would probably take centuries for the lost flora and fauna to be re-established if they are not entirely extinct.”

The Christian Council in further justification for its call for the forest to be made a National Park said the venture would create jobs and livelihoods for many Ghanaians while preserving the environment.

“Establishing a new national park is an option with great public support amongst the forest-urged communities who are so dependent on the forest. A new national park at Atewa forest can deliver sustainable jobs and livelihoods for many people and, as part of a living landscape, can provide new economic opportunities.”

The Council stressed that having a park management regime would save the Densu, Ayensu and Birim rivers which serve people in six MMDAs in the Greater Accra, Central and Western regions of Ghana.

The Christian Council, made up of 32 member Church and para-church organizations, said it gives its “unflinching support to the protection of one of the finest and last remnant forest ecosystems in Ghana.”

Various environmental groups in the country including A ROCHA Ghana, which has been campaigning against mining bauxite in the Atewa forest for many years, have reiterated the need for the government to protect the forest which is recognized globally as an important area for biodiversity, serving as home to many animal species including some that are on the brink of extinction.

Meanwhile, Citi News has gathered that the government already mobilized heavy duty equipment to plough into the forest.

Dozens of trees have so far been felled as a result.