The Council of Ghanaian Chiefs, Members of the Okyeman Foundation and the Ghanaian Community in the Netherlands have expressed concern and shock at the current threat to the Atewa Range Forest at Kyebi in the Akyem Abuakwa area for bauxite mining.
This resulted from several engagements by the Atewa Ambassadors, who are musicians, led by Obour, President of MUSIGA.
The Ambassadors, in a concert dubbed: “Save Atewa Benefit” concert in Amsterdam canvases the support of the Ghanaian Community to urge government to secure Atewa for water and not for bauxite mining.
In a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Chiefs propose to him to invoke an executive instrument to secure and upgrade the Atewa Range Forest into a National Park, a living legacy which can be named after the revered King, “His Royal Majesty the late Nana Sir Ofori Atta I,” whose 75th Anniversary is being celebrated in the month of August.
The Atewa forest was established in 1929 during the leadership of the late Nana Sir Ofori Atta I and can be a legacy for his memory and recognition of his generational leadership for Ghanaians.
The petition, which is signed by 14 Chiefs, led by Barima Asamoah Kofi IV (Chairman CoGhaC) and (Dr. Stephen Kwasi Oduro) Abakomahene of the Akyem Kotoku Abohyendwa, Kofi Stool and Divisional Chief of Abirem Traditional Area respectively, states that the Atewa Range Forest, which is also known as Kwaebibirem, is an area of high hydrological importance and also of significant value for the global persistence of biodiversity, harbouring rare and threatened species found in few other places in the world.
“The Atewa Forest is the source of water for up to 5 million Ghanaians, with some in Accra, Eastern and Central Regions of Ghana, and so bauxite mining in the Forest would greatly endanger the water provision services and the large number of species in the forest that are already globally threatened with extinction.”
The chiefs in the petition agreed with the many resonating voices that the forest’s future should be protected to promote a green economy in the surrounding landscape than mining.
The petitioners mentioned that a recent economic analysis made by experts, in collaboration with Ghanaian institutions such as the Forestry Commission, Water Resources and A Rocha Ghana and the Netherlands Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, indicated that establishing a National Park at Atewa, with a well-managed buffer zone will bring a higher return on investment in economic value to the Ghanaian economy than the planned bauxite mining scenario.
According to the petition, the chiefs indicated that they were aware of an already existing mine at Awaso and a high grade quality bauxite elsewhere in Ghana which could be exploited than Atewa Range Forest.
The petitioners further asked if the country significant trade-off would ignore sustainable development pathways and mine Atewa for bauxite.
“Of significant consideration are the water provision service of Atewa Range Forest and the agrarian economy it supports, the low-grade quality of the bauxite will not bring sufficient returns in terms of jobs, prosperity and wellbeing”.
The chiefs in the petition told President Akufo-Addo that there was a major opportunity in pursuing green development for Ghana to effectively demonstrate its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 17 of the United Nations which he currently serve as a Co-Chair.
“We strongly believe that making Atewa Range Forest a protected area, will be a major milestone and contribute significantly to progress on a key SDG indicator.
“We agreed with several other petitions and recommendations to you (President) to remove all references to Kyebi and the Atewa Range Forest as a target for bauxite exploration and mining and declare the entire Forest Range as a new National Park for Ghana, to be a legacy not only for the late Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, but also to yourself in keeping with your promise to secure a better environment for posterity.
They assured President Akufo-Addo of their commitment to work with all relevant stakeholders to provide any support that may be useful and appropriate in the endeavour.