Ghana: Geag Worried Over Mining in Beleaguered Forest Reserves

Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group (GEAG) has reiteratedits firm opposition to the Minerals Commission's issuance of licenses to companies to mine in the country's already beleaguered Forest Reserves.

It cited that the Draw River Forest Reserve, established in 1937, covering 235 km of forest in the Nzema East Municipality, and the Draw River, which flows through the eastern part of the forest reserve, was under serious threat.

The GEAG raised the concern in a statement issued and signed by its Executive Director, Ms Elizabeth Allua Vaal, to mark International Global Biodiversity Day, which was observed throughout the world on Wednesday.

The statement said GEAG has lend its support to a petition by concerned elders and members of Banso Azewua Royal Stool of Gwira Banso in the Nzema East Municipality, and Evalue Ajomoro Constituency in the Western Regionto President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over mining in those areas.

The petitioners have kicked against the granting of license to the Betterland Ghana Ltd, subsidiary of Tower Assets Ltd, by the Minerals Commission, for the mining of Gold, Diamond and Lithium in the Draw River Forest Reserve.

The GEAG said that, "this is a vast expanse of virgin forest that should never be mined because it was designated as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) in 1954."

The statement also said there are 30 forest reserves in Ghana that have been re-designated by GSBA, and "as a signatory to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Ghana is obligated to comply with the legally binding UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty that it signed.

The GEAG noted that at the CBD meeting, currently taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, from May 21 to 29, 2024, of delegates from the 196 nations that adopted the treaty, were expected to adopt a "Biodiversity Plan" to halt and reverse Biodiversity loss by 2030.

The GEAG revealed that on its website, Betterlands Ghana Ltd paints an image of its involvement in sustainable mining and land reclamation.

However, a review of the Minerals Commission's website's repository of information shows that Betterland was incorporated in 2017, registered for a prospecting license on August 23, 2022.

The GEAG further said that the company has one active mining lease license ML2/236 that was issued on May 10, 2023 and expires on May 9, 2033. It has three prospecting mining licenses in the validation phase and one mining lease license under review.

It said "Betterland's parent Tower Assets Limited has a restricted small-scale mining lease issued on June 28, 2017. There is no information on either Betterland or TowerAssets' actual mining operations."

Moreover, the GEAG noted that the Ghana Forestry Commission "does not have the infrastructure and systems in place to adequately monitor mining activities in Forest Reserves and compliance with the UN CBD treaty that Ghana signed."

The group called on the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with the UN CBD treaty and stop approving mining lease licenses for mining in Ghana's Forest Reserves, especially those that are designated as GSBAs.

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