The youth of Manso Odaho in the Ashanti Region have expressed anger at the allocation of a mining licence to Heritage Imperial Company, a small scale mining firm, to prospect gold in the Apamprama forest reserve.
They have vowed to resist any move to mine in the natural reserve.
“We know the President, Nana Addo, frowns against the destruction of forest reserve. Why then has a mining firm be granted a permit to mine in this forest? We the youth in this community will not allow anyone to destroy the forest we have preserve for decades. We are battle ready to risk our lives to protect their forest reserve”, an angry youth leader, Sampson Donkor warned.
The concerned youth accused their chief, Nana Agyei Kumi II, and the District Chief Executive for Amansie South, William Asante Bediako, of conniving with the Heritage Imperial and some illegal miners to destroy the Apamprama forest.
But Nana Agyei Kumi II has refuted the claims by the youth.
He insisted he has no hands in the granting of permit to Heritage Imperial to prospect gold in the Apamprama forest reserve.
The chief showed 3news.com documents indicating that the Forestry Commission, Minerals Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency have permitted the small scale mining company to prospect gold in the forest.
“Nananom and I just asked the mining firm to perform customary rights before entering the forest to start with their activities since they have been issued with an entry permit by the regulatory bodies which we had no hand in it”, Nana Agyei Kumi II explained.
The DCE, Williams Asante Bediako, is yet to respond to the allegation despite several attempts to get his side of the story.
Checks from the Bekwai Forestry Division confirmed Heritage Imperial has been granted a prospecting license in the Apamprama forest for a period of three years, ending 2021.
At the launch of Youth in Afforestation in August 2018, President Akufo-Addo said the government is commitment to protecting the forests to achieve the sustainable development goal 15 of halting and reversing land degradation, desertification, biodiversity loss, and to sustainably manage the forest.
But achieving this goal will be a daunting task with the leasing of some forest reserves such as the Atewa and Apamprama Forest Reserve for mining.
Depletion of forest cover
The Apamprama forest reserve in the Amansie South district is under threat of illegal mining operations.
When the 3news.com team visited the reserve, a portion of the forest cover had been destroyed. Several trees have been cut down with the Oda River being polluted.
Over the years, Ghana’s forest has been threatened by the activities of miners and chainsaw operators.
Most of the forest reserves in the country have been depleted, intensifying the threat of climate change.
Ashanti region used to be endowed with 61 forest reserves but most of the reserves have been completely degraded and the remaining, partially degraded.
Government’s implementation of the Youth in Afforestation programme is creating jobs, restoring degraded forests and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
But the destruction of forests persists, especially in mining communities.
By Ibrahim Abubarkar|3news.com|Ghana