Two Foreign diplomats in Ghana ,the US Ambassador H.E Robert Jackson and the Deputy Head of Mission at Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Accra (Ghana),Caecilia Wijgers have paid a visit to Atewa Forest Reserve ,one of the largest surviving rain forests in West Africa located in Akyem Abuakwa area of South-Eastern Ghana.
The diplomats and their entourage paid a courtesy visit to the Paramount Chief of Akyem Abuakwa state ,Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin before embarking on nature walk to the forest reserve.The diplomats also toured some illegally mined sites to observe the level of land degradation large water pollution.The entourage also visited A Rocha Ghana office at Kibi , leading efforts to protect the Forest Reserve to become ecotourism destination .
Managers of Atewa Forest posted on facebook that ” We received the US Ambassador, H.E Robert P. Jackson and the Deputy Netherlands Ambassador at our field office in Kyebi today. The Ambassadors visited the Okyehene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin before taking a nature walk through the Atewa jungles to see one of it’s beautiful waterfalls “.
Subsequently, the US Ambassy and Deputy Netherlands Ambassador took to twitter to appreciate species richness of Atewa Forest .
Gov’t Plan to mine Bauxite in the Forest and opposition by environmentalists.
Several attempts have been made to mine bauxite deposits in the Atewa Forest reserve .Ghana’s President, Nana Addo, Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced this year that the bauxite deposits at Kyebi, which form part of the Atiwa forest and Nyinahin, would be mined to manufacture machine parts within the country to create jobs for the youth.
However , environmentalists in Ghana have vowed to oppose the intended move by the government due to the insatiable significance of the Atiwa Forest Reserve in the country.
The Atiwa Range Forest Reserve is about 23,663 hectares which is part of an ecosystem known as the Upper Guinea Forest. The Atiwa Range, which spans Akyem Abuakwa area is one of two such forests left in Ghana.
Apart from the Atiwa forest serving as an ecosystem and for biodiversity, it also provides headwater for three major rivers – the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers.
These rivers are the most important sources of domestic and industrial water for local communities as well as Ghana’s major populations such as its capital, Accra. Atiwa also presents an inexhaustible laboratory for global medicinal needs as it presents an unlimited array of species, both flora and fauna with pharmaceutical properties.
Mr Emmanuel Akom, the Kibi Area Manager of Arocha Ghana, disagrees with the president’s decision to mine bauxite in the forest , arguing that ,ecological services and benefits of the Atiwa Forest Reserve supersede the intended purpose of the government; hence the decision must be rescinded.
He said mining in the forest reserve would affect three major rivers,affect wildlife, lead to loss of biodiversity, and extinction of some species and affect negatively, agricultural activities I’m surrounding communities .
Mr.Annor Obed,an Environmental Journalist known in the Media as Kojo Ansah ,has asked the government to instead make Atewa Forest Reserve a National Park which according to him can fetch the state huge revenue in long term than mining of the bauxite deposit whiles the Country continue to enjoy natural significance of the forest reserve .