Updates: Atewa forest ambassadors raise awareness in the Netherlands
The chairman of the council of chiefs of the Ghanaian community in Netherlands has signed a petition to the president not to mine Atewa forest for bauxite.
Meeting with a section of the Ghanaian community and chiefs to discuss the Atewa Forest situation
Leading Ghanaian musicians MzVee, Obour and Sherifa Gunu visit the Netherlands this week to mobilize with the Ghanaian community here to join their plea for the protection of the Atewa Range forest reserve in Ghana. Although the forest reserve is crucial for the water supply of over 5 million Ghanaians, it is at risk of being cleared for bauxite mining.
Together with partner organization A Rocha Ghana, IUCN NL has been highlighting ecological and economic arguments for the conservation of the Atewa forest since 2014. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in reducing threats such as illegal logging, illegal gold mining, hunting and farm encroachment. In 2016, A Rocha Ghana almost clinched an increase in the protection status to National Park. In mid-2017, however, an alarming new threat arose: the newly elected Ghanaian government signed a deal with China, in which it agreed to make a number of forest areas, including the Atewa forest, available for bauxite extraction.
Bauxite mining threatens water supply
“Allowing bauxite extraction in the Atewa forest is at odds with commitments made by the previous government to increase the protection status of the forest reserve to a national park and constitutes a major threat to the country’s water supply,” says Jan Kamstra, Senior Expert Nature Conservation at IUCN NL. “Five million people depend on the rivers that have their source in the forest for their daily water to drink, cook and wash themselves. These rivers risk drying up when the forest is given out for bauxite mining.”
Last year, a group of renowned Ghanaian musicians jointly released a song to support the long standing campaign to save the forest reserve. This week, the famous MzVee, Sherifa Gunu and Obour travel to Holland along with A Rocha Ghana to mobilize the Ghanaian community in the Netherlands to join their plea for the protection of Atewa forest.
Nature as an ally against water shortage
Their schedule also includes a visit to the Amsterdam water supply dunes, where a Dutch ranger will explain how the Netherlands protect important drinking water sources through nature conservation and restoration. By drawing parallels between the importance of the Amsterdam water supply dunes for the water of Amsterdam and the conservation of Atewa forest for Accra’s water supply, the delegation can use this experience in their campaign in Ghana.