A-ROCHA Ghana, a non- governmental organisation (NGO) that is into forest research, has called on the government to stop illegal miners from extracting bauxite from the Atiwa Forest.
According to the NGO, the Atiwa forest is noted as a water tower, animal and vegetation forest reserve in the country. It delivers a variety of ecosystem service and benefits that supersede whatever amount the country will gain from mining.
The Research and Project Liaison Officer of the NGO, Mr Emmanuel Akon, made this request during the celebration of this year’s World Earth Day at Bonsu in the Eastern Region.
He noted that improper monitoring of forest reserves had made Ghana lose 90 per cent of its forest cover in the past decade and added that Ghana continued to lose two per cent of its forest cover annually due to illegal mining and other activities.
Speaking on the theme, “Our forests in harmony with our cities”, he noted that A- Rocha Ghana, in partnership with the environmental office of the US Embassy in Ghana, Save The Frogs and the University of Agriculture and Environmental Studies at Bunso sought to educate the community and the civil society to join the crusade in protecting the forest reserves, especially those close to the big cities.
Mr Akon said the Atiwa Forest played an important role not only as a repository of biodiversity but also provided carbon sinks and sources of drinking water for the cities and the rural communities.
He said the forest sheltered the head waters of major rivers in-Ghana such as the Ayensu, Birim and Densu, which provide drinking water to a large number of both rural and urban dwellers in Accra, Oda and Kade, which are under serious threat.
The chairman for the occasion, Mr Ben Adu-Osei, indicated that despite the numerous roles of the Atiwa Forest, it was faced with the threat of increase in degradation of the forest resources from the growing population who needed the land space for other productive purposes.
He said the forest reserve was also faced with persistent pressure for commercial bauxite mining, illegal artisanal and chainsaw logging, bush meat hunting and farm encroachment.
That, he said, posed serious risk to the ecological integrity of the forest and the provision of services, especially its role in absorbing carbon dioxide emission from cars, industries and other human activities,
Mr Adu-Osei indicated that the greatest threat facing communities was not only poverty but also an environmental catastrophe of destructive and unsustainable levels of natural resources exploitation in the country.
The Atiwa Forest, located in the Eastern Region and among the 260 forest reserves in the country, is one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical forests and also one of the healthiest and important ecosystems in West Africa.
The forest has a national recognition as an important reserve which delivers a variety of ecosystem services and benefits whose economic values cannot be matched.
It also shelters the headwater of various major rivers such as the Weija, Densu, Birim and Ayensu which serves most communities with potable water in the country.
The Atiwa and Tano Offin forests are the two largest and richest forest reserves in Ghana.
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