Government’s decision to carry out large scale bauxite mining in the ancient Atewa Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region continues to face resistance from local and international environmentally friendly organisations.
A Rocha Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation leading the crusade has reaffirmed its utmost disapproval at the government’s decision, and called for the Atewa forest reserve to be exempted from the plan.
Dr Seth Appiah-Kubi, the National Director of A Rocha Ghana, is demanding the government and its Chinese counterpart, Sinohydro to rather turn the Atewa forest into a National Park and a thriving tourism centre to improve its protection and sustainability.
Speaking at a News Conference jointly organised by A Rocha Ghana and the World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Centre in Accra, Dr Appiah-Kubi bemoaned the attempt by government to expose the Atewa forest which had local and international significance to total destruction by the Chinese company.
“Atewa forest provides water to over five million Ghanaians. It is the headwater for three key rivers in Ghana namely; the Densu river which flows into the Weija Dam that supplies water to millions of inhabitants in Western part of Accra, the Ayensu river which flows all the way to Swedru and Winneba in the Central Region and the Birim river which also supplies water to the Pra river for the Akyem people and flows to the Western Region where it enters the sea”.
He emphasised that the Atewa forest because of its unique nature, was a habitat to important plants and animal species to the extent that some flora and fauna species could only be found in Atewa.
He urged government to ponder on the long term effects the bauxite mining in the Atewa forest would bring to the people, communities and the nation at large and rescind its decision.
Meanwhile, Concerned Citizens of Atewa and leadership of the Atewa communities recently demonstrated their total disapproval and demanded the government to rescind its decision to mine the forest.
The people embarked on a six-day 95km Atewa Water Walk carrying water from its origin in the forest to the seat of government (Jubilee House) in Accra and presented a petition to the President Nana Akufo-Addo describing the Atewa forest as their source of life and sustenance.
Dr Appiah-Kubi who sided with their action also supported the outright rejection of the bauxite development in the Atewa since the promised jobs and development would not adequately compensate for their losses.
He urged the Government to pay particular attention to the people’s demand for alternative development interventions such as ecotourism, research and education and forest-related green development investments
“Investments such as establishing the cocoa processing value chain that private sector companies have already expressed interest in pursuing there, and adding value to local produce, supported by traditional alternative livelihoods such as bee keeping, organic fruit and vegetable production, and sale of traditional artefacts to tourists”.
A Rocha Ghana appealed to the Government to exempt Atewa from its bauxite development plan and look at other bauxite rich sites elsewhere, adding that Ghana would fail in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) six and others, if Atewa was destroyed.
Mr Matthias Boehning, the Director of World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Sustainability Centre, said turning the Atewa forest into a big scale bauxite mining site would pose serious threats to the lives of the people and the environment.
He charged all faith-based organisations and believers in Ghana and other countries to speak out against the destruction of the Atewa forest reserve.