Leave Atiwa Forest out of Ghana-China deal – Gov’t told

A coalition of environmental groups has asked government to as a matter of urgency take out the Atiwa Range Forest in Kyebi from the Ghana-China deal. In a press statement jointly signed on Wednesday, July 5, the group expresses disbelief as to why government will leverage “priceless assets” as part of its international financial bargaining chip. They say the Atiwa range forest has immeasurable benefits to Ghanaians as such it must be expunged from the deal with immediate effect. “Atiwa is unique and irreplaceable and without doubt the most important water tower in Ghana providing water for 5 million Ghanaians on a daily basis,” said the statement. “The forest is headwaters for three main streams, the Birim, the Ayensu and the Densu providing water to millions of Ghanaians in three regions, that is; the Eastern, Central and Western Regions of Ghana. As indicated above, without Atewa, there will be no Weija and no water for the people of Nsawam.” The group has stated its position clearly, indicating that it is only interested in portions of the deal that threatens the Atiwa Forest range and not the entire deal. “Specifically our concern relates to the intention of government to leverage bauxite reserves in Atewa Range Forest Reserves, as part of several other places identified under the deal. In stating this, we need to make it categorically clear that as a coalition we are not against the government of Ghana going into any financial agreement, local or international, and also not against government of Ghana mining bauxite in Ghana.” The statement further urged government not to renege on its commitment to conserve the natural environment. “Again, Ghana has committed to conserve protected areas and other sites of known importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services. These commitments are enshrined in numerous international agreements to which Ghana is a party, including the Convention on Biological Diversity ratified by Ghana in 1992; UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, ratified by Ghana in September 2016, which entered into force in Ghana in November 2016; and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” it stated. The groups also used the opportunity to call on government to make the Atiwa range forest a national park. This they believe will help sustain the site and also create employment for the people of Kyebi and its surrounding towns. “Again in furtherance to entrenching Ghana’s commitment to the SDGs particularly goals 6, 13 and 15, the government of Ghana should declare Atiwa Range Forest Reserve as a National Park. This will certainly be the most lasting legacy generations will forever remember this administration for, together with bringing to a halt the activities of galamsey all over the country.”

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Background Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia returned from a trip to China and announced a partnership deal with the Government of China. The deal is a 15 Billion dollar facility. In this deal, the Government of Ghana is seeking to leverage Ghana’s natural resources. Specifically, the deal targets bauxite deposits beneath the Atiwa Forest Reserve in Kyebi and the Tano Offin Forest Reserve at Nyinahin among other resources. By Denis Pwaberi Wedam|3news.com|Ghana ]]>