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Opinions of Thursday, 26 July 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Open Letter To All Presidential Candidates

An Open Letter To All Presidential Candidates In Ghana's December 2012 Election

By Kofi Thompson


I write to you in order to bring to your attention the urgent need to protect the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest - and its huge eco-tourism potential that could be the basis for a thriving local green economy, as well as a shining example of sustainable development that truly benefits ordinary people.

An acquaintance of mine, aware of my relationship with Greenheart Conservation and Carbon Trading & Trust, upon hearing the ordeal some residents of Akyem Saamang had had to go through recently - when they were assaulted by men from what is effectively a private army for the promoters of Solar Mining Limited - asked me whether the government of Ghana was actually serious about tourism in Ghana.

It is a question you must all ponder over, gentlemen - and provide answers for the good people of Ghana: in the speeches you make during your election campaign rallies across our nation.

Incidentally, I also write to you on behalf of all those in the fringe-forest communities of Juaso, Saamang and Osino, in Akyem Abuakwa, who are too terrified to speak out openly, against the powerful and wealthy rogues behind Solar Mining Limited - which has reversed into the bankrupt Kibi Goldfields of Ambassador Budu Saaka's in the most duplicitous of fashions, in order to have perfect legal cover to enable it continue with, and get away successfully, with its perfidy and contumacy.

Gentlemen, at a time when global climate change is impacting our nation so negatively, the political will to preserve the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest needs to be clearly demonstrated by all the political parties in our country.

Designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), and from whence the headwaters of the three major river systems which provide a large part of southern urban Ghana with its drinking-water supply, take their source, and flow from, life as we know it will not be possible in future, were we to lose Atewa - as a result of the actions and inaction of Ghana's politicians.

Gold (and the proposed bauxite) mining, as well as illegal chainsaw logging and hunting, pose the greatest risks to the continued existence of this vital and unique upland evergreen rain forest.

If preserved, the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest could be the basis for a thriving eco-tourism destination without compare, in all of our homeland Ghana.

Indeed, as we speak, the global leaders in the fabrication and erection of ziplines and the building of forest canopy walkways, Greenheart Conservation, and its partners, Carbon Trading & Trust - and a number of angel investors they have brought on board - are preparing to come to Akyem Abuakwa Juaso.

Due here between the end of August and early September 2012, the purpose of their trip, is to prepare for the start of a privately-funded project to turn part of the P. E. Thompson Estate's private freehold nature-resource reserve into a world-class eco-tourism destination, with centrepiece attractions that include tree-house eco-lodges; ziplines; and a forest canopy walkway.

When completed, it will be a shining example of how large private landowners in rural Ghana, can partner the local communities they are an integral and vital part of, to alleviate poverty, and create wealth that benefits local people on a sustainable basis.

Gentlemen, the question the ordinary people of Akyem Abuakwa, who still care about what remains of their natural heritage, and want it preserved as a climate-change amelioration measure, to ensure their long-term survival, want you to answer, is: Will a government led by the one amongst you who emerges as the winner of the upcoming December presidential election, protect the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest - by making sure that all the recommendations made by the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Programme (RAP) survey Bulletin No. 47, for the management of an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), are fully implemented during his regime's tenure?

Above all, given the vital eco-system services the area provides a vast swathe of southern urban Ghana, including providing our nation's capital with its drinking-water, do you all agree that the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest, ought to be preserved for present and future generations of Ghanaians - by making sure that all mining is prohibited in the area and community-based eco-tourism becomes Akyem Abuakwa's main source of income: underpinning a new green local economy?

I wish you all well in December. And may the one with the best intentions for our country, and all its people - not just a powerful few with greedy intentions - emerge victorious in the presidential election.

Tel: 027 745 3109.