Government pushes ahead with damaging incursion into Atewa Forest

STOP PRESS 17 June 2019: press release published by A Rocha International, American Bird Conservancy, Amphibian Survival Alliance, BirdLife International, Guyra Paraguay, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Global Wildlife Conservation, the Rainforest Trust, Synchronicity Earth and WWF

On Thursday 30 May 2019, the A Rocha Ghana team and community members witnessed a bulldozer clearing trees and creating access roads in Atewa Forest Reserve in full sight of Forest Commission staff. This would appear to be part of exploratory mining plans that we recently learned about through a report from the US Forest Service. USFS advised that the government take appropriate time to assess the likely impact of their bauxite plans through a Strategic Environmental Assessment and relevant Environmental Impact Assessments and not proceed with mining Atewa until these are done.

During a press event to mark the work of the Sustainable Development Goals, H.E. Nana Addo the President of Ghana – an advocate for the SDGs – was asked about this incursion into Atewa. He sought to reassure Ghanaians that the exploitation of Atewa Forest for bauxite would cause no harm to the forest’s wildlife, that modern technology could ensure the ‘red mud’ could be extracted without disturbance, and that the government would keep a close eye on developments. He added that they were following international best practice in this exploitation.

A Rocha Ghana and partners have issued a strong statement in response that the incursion into Atewa Forest on 30 May already breaches international best practice and that there is no factual basis for the President’s reassurances about how bauxite mining can be done. They urge the government to call an immediate halt to any bauxite related activity inside Atewa Forest until independent impact assessments have been completed. And these apply to exploratory activity as much as to any actual mining.

A Rocha Ghana and partners continue to monitor developments as closely as they can but the lack of transparency in the government’s approach is making this very difficult. This latest unwelcome development is causing consternation around the world and it can only be hoped that the outcry will cause the government to rethink their plans.

If you have not already done so then please sign our petition and talk on social media about what is happening. Please also pray for the team in Ghana as they face this challenge.

New access road into Atewa Forest Reserve (Ransford Agyei)

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