Civil Society develops plan to sustain campaign on forest and mining laws

Accra, Oct.19, GNA – A capacity building
workshop held for Civil Society groups has ended in Accra with the pledge to
maintaining the campaign on the adherence to the country’s forest and mining
laws.

Participants developed strategies to provide
simplified information databases and formats for educational materials useful
for future advocacy work. 

The workshop, with funding from the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, was part of the Green Livelihoods
Alliance (GLA) Project being implemented by the Ghana branches of Friends of
the Earth (FoE), Tropenbos and A Rocha.

The GLA project is concerned with building a
strong civil society for inclusive and sustainable development in forested
landscapes of Ghana and eight other countries across the world.

The workshop was timely given the
determination of the Ghana government to mine bauxite in some of the country’s
protected forest reserves despite its extremely damaging consequences.

A statement from FoE-Ghana and copied to the
Ghana News Agency said it was keen on highlighting the importance of legal
compliance in the mining sector as well as the need to be environmentally and
socially responsible.

“The high rate of logging in Ghana and the
constant private sector demands for mining concessions in protected forests are
very worrying trends, especially for communities relying on the forests for
their basic needs and livelihoods,” it said. 

The statement said communities threatened by
logging or mining as well as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that defend
community and environmental rights, had crucial role to play in the monitoring
of logging and mining companies to ensure they did not step beyond the bounds
of Ghana’s laws.

FoE-Ghana, which has been a leader in
supporting communities to monitor timber companies for legal compliance, urged
participants to further educate the communities and civil society groups they
work with to ensure they build their capacity to effectively monitor mining and
logging operations in their localities.

It urged Civil Society and communities to be
proactive as they could only make inputs at the ‘consideration stage’ in the
law-making process.

The consideration stage is when Parliament
makes changes to draft bills and that is the stage when civil society and
communities can make inputs and request for amendments.

It quoted Nana Tawiah Okyir, a resource person
from the Taylor Crabbe Initiative as saying: “This is when communities and
civil society can make their views known and lobby for change”.

Mr Dennis Martey, a Lawyer at Taylor Crabbe,
touched on Ghana’s minerals and mining law and how this sits within Ghana’s
Constitution.

He said it was significance for civil society
to know that they could find out the location of mineral rights and details of
the right holders in the Register of Mineral Rights by the Minerals Commission.

He called for a reform of the existing legal
system to ensure a mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to the
award of permits instead of after, as is currently the case.

GNA

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