It is clear that civil society organisations (both domestic and international) are not giving up efforts to stop the government of Ghana from mining bauxite in the Atewa Forest.
One such group that has added its voice to the matter is International Development and Conservation Organisations (IDCO).
According to IDCO, government must remove Kyebi from its plans of mining bauxite and in the Ghana Integrated Bauxite and Aluminum Development Authority Bill currently before Parliament.
Consequently, the group called on the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to reject any plan(s) of splitting the forest into two, for one part to be used for bauxite mining, stating that the water and biodiversity are actually found where the government plans to mine.
They further expressed that they were ready and willing to provide any support that may be useful and appropriate in the achievement of sustainable development pathway.
The IDCO is made up of WWF International, A Rocha International, BirdLife International, Rainforest Trust, and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Global Wildlife Conservation have a combined membership and support of over 15 million people worldwide.
The Atewa Forest is on record to be serving over 5 million Ghanaians with their daily water needs.
The Densu River, which flows from the Atewa Forest, feeds the Weija Reservoir that provides close to 2.5 million people in Accra with water.
A statement jointly signed by the Chief Executive Officers of the six organisations and copied to the media in Accra yesterday re-inforced the water provisioning significance of the Atewa Forest.
It averred that the Atewa Forest was a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), thus holds high importance for the global persistence of biodiversity, and harbours rare and threatened species found in few other places in the world.
According to the statement, the IDCO mentioned that apart from the biological importance of the Atewa Forest, “what is of critical importance is that five million people are dependent on the water provisioning services of the Forest.”
It highlighted the concerns that bauxite mining in Atewa Forest would greatly endanger the large number of species in the forest that were already globally threatened with extinction.
The statement said over 100 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and plants and a number of species are confined entirely to Atewa Forest, cannot be found elsewhere in the world, adding that, “at least two species are classified by the IUCN with their highest level of extinction threat (Critically Endangered): the Togo Slippery Frog Conrau aderooi and the plant Aubregrini ataiensis.”
“Three more species are expected to be classified as Critically Endangered once assessed: the White-naped Mangabey Cercocebus, lunulatus, the AfiaBirago Puddle Frog Phrynobatrachus afiabirago and the plant Monanthotaxis atewensis,” it added.
IDCO, in the statement, therefore, proposed sustainable development pathways.
That, it stressed, was the best use option for Atewa Forest in ensuring total protection and the promotion of a green economy in the surrounding landscape and definitely not mining.
Again, the statement affirmed that a development pathway that seeks to pursue the establishment of a new National Park will be widely celebrated where a conversion and loss of such an important forest will be widely condemned.
There have been calls, campaigns and strong advocacy by several civil society groups in the country and the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape urging government to delist Atewa Forests from targeted areas in the government’s planned integrated bauxite development agenda.
This international call comes to support the ongoing advocacy by the non-governmental organisations and the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape urging government not to target Atewa for Bauxite minning.
The organisations have indicated that, they are not against the government’s agenda to develop and add value to her bauxite resources, but strongly reject attempts to target the Atewa Forest, which is also the source of water for over 5 million Ghanaians both upstream and downstream.
Story: Kwamena ANANSE
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