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Opinions of Sunday, 18 November 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Do Not Encourage Galamsey

Do Not Encourage Galamsey In Ecologically-sensitive Areas Like The Atewa Range Upland Evergreen Rain Forest

By Kofi Thompson

It is most unfortunate that in their bid to win power, some politicians are promising those involved in illegal surface gold mining - galamsey - that were they to come to power after the December 2012 elections, they will not clamp down on what is an illegal activity responsible for the destruction of the natural environment, in vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside.

It is time Ghana's hard-of-hearing politicians understood clearly that at a time of global climate change, the natural environment in ecologically-sensitive areas like the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest, must be protected and preserved at all costs.

From the point of view of creating jobs, would it not be far better for our nation, if a viable way could be found that will enable the big multinational gold mining companies to exploit part of their concessions, by outsourcing the work to self-employed galamsey miners: whose work could be more closely monitored that way?

Akyem Abuakwa - where the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) presidential candidate Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's late mother's family hail from - used to have some of the most beautiful countryside in Ghana.

Alas, today, a large part of an area of outstanding natural beauty, which potentially could become a leading eco-tourism destination in Africa, has been more or less destroyed by the ruinous and criminal activities of illegal surface gold miners and loggers.

Let our nation's leaders understand clearly, once and for all, that at a time of global climate change it is imperative that Ghana abandons all plans to mine bauxite and gold in the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest. Community-based eco-tourism is a viable and sustainable alternative to mining in that area.

Life as we presently know it will become impossible to sustain, were the three major river systems that take their headwaters from that part of our nation - and on which much of urban and rural southern Ghana depend on for their drinking water supply - to dry up.

At a time when global climate change is impacting the Ghanaian countryside negatively, it is vital that political parties in our country understand the importance of protecting what is left of our nation's forest cover.

For the sake of present and future generations, galamsey activities should neither be encouraged nor tolerated, in ecologically sensitive areas, such as the Atewa range upland evergreen rain forest - an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA). A word to the wise...

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Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.

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