A Ghanian environmental group is calling upon the country’s government to block bauxite mining at the Atiwa forest and instead declare the land a national park.
Last week Daryl Bosu, deputy national director for A ROCHA, told domestic media that the forest had previously been a national park, and the push to return it to that status has garnered much support.
“Currently as we speak other development partners are supporting the government to identify the green opportunities and to support and invest in those areas. Because we believe that if we invest sufficiently we will create jobs that will also promote well-being.”
“A key to having a tourism destination in that landscape,” he continued. “When Kakum was developed, nobody anticipated that it would be receiving hundreds of thousands of tourists a year. Visibility shows that Atiwa could give three hundred thousand a year if we put our hands on deck and work at it.”
Bosu went on to say that there are many other economically worthwhile uses for the Atiwa forest that don’t involve mining.
“Again there is so much other development, there is a lot of cocoa in that landscape, timber forest that can earn the county a high earn value on the market. But we are not developing the value chain. Everybody is seen to be focusing on mining so we are cutting and destroying it.”
Bosu noted the problems caused by irresponsible bauxite ore mining, and that, without responsible remediation of the land, nothing of value is left for those who live in the area.
“Their water is muddy, they can’t use it anymore, and the land left cannot be used for farming. Bearing in mind that land that is mined is exposed to heavy metal contamination before you use it you have to make sure you remove all of these chemicals to a level where you can produce crops that will not be harmful to the body.”
“Remember the former Minister for Environment said that for Ghana to rehabilitate all the degradable mines sites it will cost Ghana about four hundred billion dollars,” he concluded. “This is almost about the same amount we say the bauxite will give us. When you look at it the net value is zero.”