Hundreds of residents of fringe communities of the Atewa Forest Reserve on Saturday commenced a six-day walk from Kyebi to Accra (95km) to protest government’s decision to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region.
The Route of Walk as scheduled are ; Sagyimase to Kyebi Saturday, 17th March, 2018 , Kyebi – Apedwa Sunday, 18th March, 2018, Apedwa to Asuboi Monday, 19th March, 2018, Asuboi – Nsawam Tuesday, 20th March, 2018, Nsawam to Achimota Wednesday, 21st March, 2018 and Achimota to Flagstaff House on Thursday, 22nd March, 2018.
Expected recipients of Petitions by the group are His Excellency, the President of Ghana Nana Akufo Addo and His Vice Dr.Mahamadu Bawumia, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, the Okyenhene and the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council, Municipal Chief Executive of East Akyem and Suhum Municipality, Amanfromhene, Suhumhene, Municipal District Chief Executive, Suhum, MCE of Nsawam- Adoagyiri Municipality ,Overlord of Nsawam Traditional Council, CEO of Forestry Commission and Achimota Mantse Palace.
The Protest March led by Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape on Saturday marched from Sagyimase to Kyebi to petition the East Akyem Municipal Assembly, and Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin for the first day of the exercise.
The Government of Ghana has announced plans to leverage bauxite deposits in parts of Ghana for a $15Billion financial package from the Chinese government.The Atewa Forest which is a Global Significant Biodiversity Area is part of current plans of Government to develop an integrated bauxite industry.
However, the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape a group made up of representatives of several NGOs, Youth Groups, Interfaith Groups, Forest Fora, Farmer Based Associations, Opinion Leaders, and Community Leaders that have the best long-term interest of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area and all the areas surrounding Atewa Forest vehemently oppose the intended bauxite mining.
Bellow is the Petition presented to Okyenhene .
CONCERNED CITIZENS OF ATEWA LANDSCAPE
16th March 2018
OSAGYEFUO AMOATIA OFORI PANIN
AKYEM ABUAKWA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL
PETITION URGING YOU TO IMPRESS UPON THE GOVERNMENT TO ABORT PLANS TO TURN KWAEBIREM INTO A BAUXITE MINE PIT – ATEWA FOR WATER
Today marks an important milestone, as it serves as the beginning of our Six Days Schedule Walk for Atewa, and our walk to secure water from Atewa. Our main purpose is to draw on your wise counsel, integrity and passion for nature and the environment to urge the government of Ghana not to mine Atewa Range Forest for its low bauxite deposits in its planned integrated bauxite industry. We make this appeal knowing that, allowing the proposed mining to go ahead will lead to devastating and irreversible socio-cultural and ecological consequences for Kwaebibirem, our past, our present and our future.
Our group is represented by several NGOs, Youth Groups, Interfaith Groups, Forest Fora, Farmer Based Associations, Opinion Leaders, and Community Leaders that have the best long-term interest of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area and all the areas surrounding Atewa Forest (Kwaebibirem) at heart.
Our concerns stems from the fact that, for some time now, we are aware of pronouncements and planning by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo and his Vice, His Excellency Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia to leverage bauxite resources in parts of Ghana for a $15 Billion financial package from the Chinese government. Our major concern is about the inclusion of the Atewa Forest at Kyebi in current plans to develop an integrated bauxite industry in Ghana.
Respectfully Osagyefo, you know the relevance of this unique forest to our heritage as a people. Kwaebibirem with its rich natural resources and deep valley rivers have defined our very existence and heritage as a people and the current plans and interest by government to mine bauxite in this unmatched biodiversity hotspot should be denounced.
Osagyefo, we commend and laud your leadership, that has for a long time respected the age old traditions of our fathers, and worked with passion and desire to maintain and secure the rich biodiversity and most importantly, the water that Kwaebibirem offers to the Akyem People, the Ghanaian population and to the world at large. We also recognise, your desire to see your people get jobs, and improve economic outcomes, for which reason you have for a long time supported investments that inure benefits to your people. We are however, convinced that the inclusion of Atewa Forest at Kyebi in such plans would not prove to be a sustainable solution, leading instead to the irretrievable loss of a natural asset of enormous local importance and great global significance.
There have been proposals to exploit the deposits at Kyebi on many previous occasions and each time the Government of Ghana has drawn back having recognised the high ecological importance of the forest as well as its critical role in provisioning ecosystem services for the people of Ghana.
Recent studies by scientist and development agencies shows the significance of this forest for the livelihoods and welfare of many millions of Ghanaians living downstream of the forest who are dependent on the forest’s provisioning of these ecosystem services, most importantly, its water provisioning. Analysis of a range of development scenarios has shown that effective protection of the forest yields the greatest economic value over a 30-year period – some US$1,157 million – to local communities, downstream residents and the national treasury when compared to scenarios that include mining. Besides water provisioning, Atewa Forest provides estimated current annual values of non-timber products of US$12.4m, climate amelioration services c. 55,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, potential tourism revenue over US$5m, cocoa production at US$9.3m, and timber at US$40.6m. These services will all be eroded with planned bauxite development in this area.
We have found from experiences in Guinea, Jamaica and Brazil that the exploitation of bauxite reserves is not possible to be done in a way that will not affect the forests and its rivers. There is also no prospect of restoring the lost forest to its former condition.
Nana, some of us have had the opportunity to visit communities affected by the Awaso bauxite mine, we have seen first-hand the devastating impacts of bauxite mining, the clear-felling of the forest, the dust pollution, the damage to their clean water sources – the source of life – and the destruction of the forests they rely on for food security, subsistence and livelihood needs. We are very aware that mining companies’ promises of jobs and local development are rarely fulfilled. We understand fully that our cocoa farms and subsistence farm plots – the source of our food and livelihood security – could be destroyed and never replaced.
Osagyefo, no one in Ghana has been spared the nightmare and harrowing destruction caused by galamsey in our region, and particularly in Kyebi. We have seen how Birim is struggling to recover its lost glory. We cannot therefore allow the biggest destructive venture like bauxite mining to completely destroy the few streams and rivers sustaining us.
Respectfully, Osagyefuo Nana Amoatia Ofori Panin II, we know your deep commitment Atewa Forest and your desire to see it become a National Park. Many people within the largely agrarian communities in the Eastern Region, and dependents in Accra, have called for the Forest Reserve to be upgraded to a National Park, and we also support National Park and green development investments agenda. There is also broad support from many national and international stakeholders in Ghana Government, civil society, national and international NGOs, donors, and businesses, to upgrade Atewa Range Forest Reserve to a National Park.
Nana we are asking that you add your wise counsel and voice of reason to the discourse and impress upon our President, to exclude Atewa Forest from governments integrated bauxite development plans. This year’s global theme for the celebration of World Water Day, has as its theme ‘Nature for Water’ and we believe it an opportune time for all of us to convey a resonating statement to exclude Atewa from the bauxite developments plans and manage Atewa for water.
Osagyefo, we believe strongly that, the development and future we seek for ourselves brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and for our children of tomorrow can be achieved without destroying this irreplaceable forest, by turning it into a dusty, hollow bauxite mine. Securing this forest will be a showcase that will be internationally recognized to your credit, our Presidents Credit and also to the Ghana’s credit in the global community, demonstrating exemplary leadership in sustainability and the environment. Even more critically, many generations after you will extoll your counsel and actions towards securing Atewa for Water and for posterity.
Thank you and we count on your leadership and support to carry our message to the Presidency.
Nana Ampem Darko- Amponsah
For: Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape
Tel: 0244245373/ 0d202555727