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Ghana - 19 July, 2016
Civil Society Organisations in Ghana (CSO’s) have decried attempts at carrying out mining activities in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve which is the fourth largest Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) in Ghana with a land mass of 41,392 hectares.
The Tano Offin Forest Reserve also serves as a water shed for River Offin, a very important river which provides water for domestic and agricultural activities for several communities and has been classified a protected area because of the significant ecosystem services it provides to sustain human life.
Mining in the forest reserve will therefore destroy its watersheds; affecting all freshwater systems originating from the forest and also compromise its entire ecosystem and biodiversity.
In a Press Release made available to Tropenbos International Ghana at Kumasi on July 18, it was revealed that a permit, dated June 10, 2016, has already been issued by the Forestry Commission (FC) for mining activities to begin in the Tano Ofin Forest Reserve which is located at the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region.
The Press Release which was authored jointly by Forest Watch Ghana, National Forestry Forum-Ghana, WACAM and KASA Initiative, all CSOs in the forestry sector, named the mining company as Exton Cubic Group.
On June 10, 2016, a visit to the forest reserve by a group of journalists found mining equipment; a bulldozer and a loader for pulling down trees and carting away debris in the forest to make way for mining activities to begin, had already been mobilised by the company in anticipation of being issued a permit, which was also issued on the same day.
It noted that for the past 20 years, mining companies have targeted forest reserves, due to their rich mineral deposits and the number of requests from mining companies for exploration permits to mine in forest reserves have increased.
However, mining in forest reserves would aggravate deforestation and forest degradation in Ghana which already stand at an alarming rate. A research study carried out by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO, 2011) indicated that, with a deforestation rate of 2.19 percent, Ghana together with Togo and Nigeria have one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.