National House of Chiefs proposes  abolition of forest reserve mining policies

Story: News Desk 

The National House of Chiefs has added to calls recommending the total abolition of policies that grant permission for mining in the country’s forest reserves.

According to the House, although regulatory policies were instituted to rake in more resources and economic benefits for the country, the governing bodies have failed to implement the policies judiciously.

Calling for a change in the regulatory regime, President of the House, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, prevailed on the government for their inclusion on the governing body.

In 2022, the government passed the legislative instrument and the Environmental Protection Regulation on mining in forest reserves.

Since the passage of the law, the country has seen many mining leases granted in forest reserves, while an increasing number of applications for the lease are under consideration.

The government came under heavy criticism after a mining company, High Street Ghana Limited, applied for a mining lease to mine in the Kakum National Park.

At its last general meeting for the year, the National House of Chiefs recommended the termination of policies on mining in forest reserves.

The House said the regulatory bodies responsible for ensuring sanity had failed in their mandates.

Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II said  beneficiaries of the policy specifically those with prospecting licenses were breaching rules as they were  actively participating in mining.

“The policy on mining in the forest reserves was well-intended but the result so far shows beneficiaries of the policy have not been sincere enough. Those who were given prospecting licenses are taking active mining. Government and its related agencies like the Forestry Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Mineral Commission cannot implement the policy in a manner to achieve its intended purpose.

“We as chiefs and custodians of the land should recommend a total abolition of the policy. Nananom are calling on the government to change the regulatory regime to also include traditional leaders,” he said.

Despite efforts to halt artisanal mining across the country’s lands and water bodies, the illegal activity continues to adversely impact the environment.

Cautioning against the repercussions of the illegal mining, the group  suggested  collaborations with the government to fight the menace.

“Without the active participation of traditional authorities, the fight against galamsey will not succeed. Government should collaborate with traditional authorities and draw up a detailed plan and provide adequate resources to halt galamsey and the menace associated with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister responsible for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Stephen Asamoah Boateng is urging the traditional rulers to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, including the Lands Commission, to protect customary land rights.

This, according to him, would end persistent land disputes in the country.

“I’d like to urge Nananom to reconsider availing their respective counsels for the customary lands secretariat management system that was espoused under the law administration project implemented by government several years ago.

“This proposal is part of efforts to address the challenge of land governance in Ghana. This appeal is to encourage you to use your influence on authority to prevent and resolve land disputes and also promote peace and development,” he said.

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