Kyebi — PSome concerned citizens of Atewa on Tuesday embarked on a demonstration from Sagimase to Kyebi in the Eastern Region to voice their displeasure against government's decision to allow mining of bauxite in the Atewa forest range.
The group from about 48 communities surrounding the Atewa forest said, despite attempts to ensure that government rescinds its decision, it has allowed a company, Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation, to enter the forest to begin exploration and drilling activities.
Clad in red the demonstrators held placards, saying they feared greatly that their communities were being threatened by the decision of government, adding that the decision was detrimental to the forest and its numerous biological diversity.
In a statement signed and read by the chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, Mr Oteng Adjei, told the press here at Kyebi, they noted that Atewa was one of the finest examples of an Upland Evergreen Forest in the Upper Guinean forest region, with over 70 species classified as critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The group said there were about 50 species of mammals, 1,000 species of plants, 230 species of birds and 570 species of butterflies in the forest.
They lamented that, what was the most worrying threat was the destruction of water bodies, including the three major rivers that take their sources from the Atewa forest, that is the Birim, Ayensu and Densu, and therefore, called on the government to rescind its decision to enable the forest preserve it wildlife and water bodies.
The group revealed that the exploration and drilling process alone conducted recently has destroyed a total land area of over 100 hectors.
"We are asking the Forestry Commission, where are all the trees that stood on the over 100 hectors of land? How much of the money generated from felling of these trees went back into any of these communities for development and what will happen to all the animals that used these trees as their abode," they enquired.
The group said that the Forestry Commission was set up to ensure that there were better and much more natural resources but "has become a deforestation commission."
They, however, reminded the President, that his appointment as the co-chair of the Eminent Group of Sustainable Development mandated him to support the UN Secretary General's effort to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030, adding that his integrity would be at stake, if he allowed the mining of bauxite in the Atewa forest.
"We are almost 100 per cent sure that, if you supervise the mining of bauxite in the Atewa forest, which is globally significant biodiversity, you put your integrity and that of the UN Secretary General at stake since the achievement of nine out of the 17 goals will be impossible."
The group used the opportunity to call on the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, to add his voice to the fight against mining in the forest.
They also called on the Okyehene, Osaagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin to add his voice and rather advocate for the forest to be upgraded to the status of a national park.