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How Ghana’s Forests Are Under Threat From Mining Law

Civil society organisations call for the repeal of L.I. 2462, a regulation that undermines the protection of forest reserves and the rights of forest communities.

by Motoni Olodun

Ghana, a country rich in forest resources, is facing a serious challenge from a new mining regulation that allows unrestricted exploitation of its forest reserves. The regulation, known as Legislative Instrument (L.I. 2462), was passed in November 2022 without much public consultation or awareness. It has been criticised by civil society organisations (CSOs) and environmental experts as a retrogressive and dangerous move that could lead to the loss of the country’s biodiversity and ecological integrity.

According to a coalition of CSOs, L.I. 2462 has several flaws and loopholes that undermine the protection of forest reserves and the rights of forest communities. For instance, the regulation does not limit the size of mining concessions in forest reserves, nor does it exclude the globally significant biodiversity areas (GSBAs) such as Tano Offin and Atewa Range Forest Reserves from mining activities. The regulation also gives the president the power to approve mining in any forest reserve if it is deemed to be in the national interest, without defining what that means or how it will be determined.

The coalition said that since the enactment of L.I. 2462, the number of mining leases granted or applied for in forest reserves has increased dramatically, affecting 14 reserves, including three GSBAs and the well-known Kakum National Park. The coalition warned that these mining activities pose a serious threat to the country’s forest cover, wildlife, water resources, climate change mitigation, and tourism potential. The coalition also accused the government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of violating the constitutional framework and the existing laws and policies on forest and environmental management.

The coalition called for the immediate repeal of L.I. 2462 and the revocation of all mining permits in forest reserves. It also urged the government to respect the rights of forest communities and to involve them in decision-making processes on forest resources. The coalition said that it will continue to monitor the situation and to advocate for the protection of Ghana’s forests from mining and other destructive activities.

Ghana is not the only country in Africa that is struggling with the issue of mining in forest reserves. According to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), mining is one of the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the continent, affecting more than 30 per cent of Africa’s forests. The report said that mining poses a serious threat to the livelihoods, cultures, and health of millions of people who depend on forests, as well as to the global efforts to conserve biodiversity and fight climate change.

However, there are also some positive examples of how mining and forest conservation can coexist in a sustainable and responsible manner. For example, in Liberia, the government and the mining company ArcelorMittal have signed a memorandum of understanding to support the establishment and management of the Gola Forest National Park, which is part of the largest remaining block of Upper Guinean forest in West Africa. The park is home to many endangered species, such as chimpanzees, pygmy hippos, and forest elephants. The company has also committed to implementing best practices and standards for environmental and social performance in its mining operations.

The case of Liberia shows that it is possible to balance the economic benefits of mining with the environmental and social values of forests, if there is political will, stakeholder engagement, and good governance. Ghana and other African countries can learn from this example and adopt a more holistic and inclusive approach to managing their forest and mineral resources, for the benefit of both people and nature.


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