A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has joined in protest against the government of President of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the exploration of the Atewa Forest for bauxite mining purposes.
Several members of the coalition hit some principal streets of the capital, Accra, last week Friday to relay their message and demand positive response from Parliament.
The march- which started at the forecourt of the Ghana Wildlife Society- ended at the Parliament House, where the group presented their petition to the Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.
According to the Convener of the Coalition, Mr Daryl Bosu, the purpose of their peaceful protest was to invoke the supervisory powers of Parliament on the decision to start mining bauxite in the Atewa Forest Range Reserve in the Eastern Region.
“We are here today to present a petition to you the august house, to have a look at some requests because I’m sure for a long time members of Parliament have been aware of a campaign to get the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to rescind its decision to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest,” Daryl Bosu said.
“We actually came here today to invoke the supervisory role of Parliament in respect of certain laws that the country has got in maintaining our forest reserves,” he added.
The Atewa Forest Range Reserve is internationally recognised as one of the highest priority ecosystems in West Africa for its high species diversity, high levels of endemism and great hydrological importance. But these qualities risk depletion as government intends to mine bauxite in the forest.
“For a long time now, we know that this forest has been providing us a very important ecosystem which is water provision. Aside from that the forest reserve is also known to provide habitat to over 100 endangered species, not only useful to Ghana but also to the global community…the landscape, where this forest sits, is also where a lot of people get their livelihood from through agriculture,” Mr. Bosu said.
Though government was set to reap heavy benefits from the bauxite mining in the forest, the group said the Atewa Forest Reserve was a source of water for more than 5 million people in the country and houses more than 100 endangered species for which reason it must remain untouched.
Also, some rivers like the Birim, Densu and Ayensu take their source from the Atewa forest.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo has, on several platforms, assured Ghanaians that the bauxite mining will begin and end with the very best practices which would be sensitive to the wildlife in the forest.
But the group has refuted such claims, saying the President’s argument doesn’t hold because the current bauxite mine at Awaso has now become a “desert of red mud.”
The group emphasised that despite their attempts to make government reconsider its decision, they have noticed the lack of transparency with respect to issues relating to mining bauxite in the forest.
The coalition is made up of Ecocare Ghana, AROCHA, Forest Watch Ghana, the US Forest Service, and several others.