Over 76 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have jointly petitioned President John Mahama and National Security to take urgent steps to tackle illegal mining in forest reserves across the country.
The NGOs, in a joint statement signed by the Coordinator of Forest Watch Ghana, Samuel Mawutor, said that “Ghana’s forest reserves are recording an unprecedented surge in mining.”
“Just a few months ago, WACAM, Forest Watch Ghana and Kasa Initiative Ghana, raised concerns about government issuing an entry permit for prospecting in Tano-Offin Forest Reserve.”
According to the statement, “Evidence gathered by CSOs indicates that other forest reserves such as Upper Wassa, Fure River, Subri and Tonton are seriously under the threat of large-scale illegal mining.”
It said “it is alarming the rate at which mining companies are being granted prospecting licenses into pristine forest reserves, particularly Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs), which Ghana committed to protecting under the 1992 United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity.”
“These companies take advantage of these permits to undertake full-scale surface mining,” the statement pointed out.
In some cases, the statement indicated that the illegal miners were being protected by politicians.
“The recent demonstrations by inhabitants in Juabo, Sraha and Ayiem in the Bibiani District in Western Region clearly show a growing distrust for state institutions, and disgust at wanton illegal mining in forest reserves with impunity with support of politicians.”
Such illegalities, according to the NGOs, are being carried out under the protection of private security personnel.
“C&G Aleska Mining Company and Gye Nyame Mining Limited, for instance, have deployed private armed security persons into the Upper Wassa and Fure River Forest Reserves respectively,” according to the statement.
“These private armed security persons obstruct and prevent law enforcement authorities from monitoring their activities in the forests, and furthermore intimidate local communities living on the fringes of these forests.”
“This development is rather alarming because a nation with pockets of areas within its borders under the control of private armed security is one nearing chaos,” it stated.
By Melvin Tarlue
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