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Group calls for a halt to mining in forest reserves

A group of civil society organisations has called on the President and the National Security Council to take urgent steps to halt mining in forest reserves.

The group made up of WACAM, Forest Watch Ghana, Kasa Initiative Ghana, and 76 other NGOs, in a joint statement issued on Tuesday November 15, 2016 indicated that forest reserves including Upper Upper Wassa, Fure River, Subri and Tonton are currently under the threat of large scale illegal mining.

According to the statement signed by the Co-ordinator of Forest Watch Ghana, Samuel Mawutor, this comes a few months after a company which had been given entry permit for prospecting in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve had vacated the site after much protest from the group.

In the statement, the group bemoaned the rate at which the Mineral’s Commission has been giving out prospecting licenses to mining companies into pristine forest reserves, particularly Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs), which Ghana committed to protecting under the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

“These companies take advantage of these permits to undertake full scale surface mining,” the statement said.

The group questioned why the Minerals Commission is giving out prospecting licenses for mining in forest reserves when even the problem of illegal mining outside forest reserves has still not been solved.

The group also stated that these illegal mining activities are carried out under the protection of well-armed, muscle-bound men who obstruct and thwart the work of the Forestry Commission and the Military.

“Some mining companies like C&G Aleska Mining Company and Gye Nyame Mining Limited, for instance, have deployed private armed security persons into the Upper Wassa and Fure River Forest Reserves, respectively. These private armed security persons obstruct and prevent law enforcement authorities from monitoring their activities in the forests and, furthermore, intimidate local communities living on the fringes of these forests,” the statement added.

The group noted in the statement that urgent steps must be taken to stop this menace to ensure the security of the nation is intact.

By: Jemima Opare-Henaku