Three environmental clubs from Basic Schools in the East Akyem Municipality have petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over rezoning of the Atiwa Forest Reserve for bauxite mining.
The petition was presented to the President through the East Akyem Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Owusu Twum-Ampofo.
The petitioners from Kibi MA Experimental School, Asikam Presbyterian Junior High School and Kibi Presbyterian Junior High School are pleading with the government of Ghana to stop every attempt to rezone any part of the Atiwa Forest Reserve as a mining lease for the extraction of bauxite.
The Petition, signed by 152 expressed concern about the negative impact of bauxite mining in the forest ecosystems and fringe communities around the Atiwa Forest.
The petition recalled that at the peak of the ‘’Galamsey’ era, rivers were polluted, farmlands were destroyed and even school lands were given out as mining lease causing the death of some students who fell in unreclaimed pits close to their schools.
They explained that, the frightening situation in mining in the Atiwa Forest is the difficulty to access clean and portable water, because the Atiwa Forest which is recognized as a Globally significant biodiversity area and an important bird area provides water for not only the 46 fringed communities but also supply water to over 3 million Ghanaians in parts of Eastern, Central and Greater Accra Regions.
The students also used the opportunity to plead with the government to upgrade the reserve into the status of a national park to benefit all in the long term.
The petitioners argue that the reserve also supports livelihoods, serves as a sink for air-borne pollutants and research centre for scientific investigations.
“It also serves as a habitat for over 1000 species of plants, 230 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, over 570 species of butterflies, potential site for eco-tourism and increase commercial activities in the tourism sector.
The Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Owusu Twum-Ampofo in his comments said the bauxite mining is planned to provide jobs for the people of Ghana and as such will increase the chances of developing the Akim Abuakwa landscape.
He noted that new technologies that are environmentally friendly would be employed in mining the bauxite.
He said not the entire forest land was going to be lease for the bauxite mining, but just a fraction of the entire forest was to be allocated for exploitation.
He said the operation would be carried out under strict mining laws and regulations, adding that all the communities and individuals who would be affected by the project would be duly compensated.