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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Ghana: Protect Forests from Mining

Africa Policy E-Journal
May 28, 2003 (030528)

Ghana: Protect Forests from Mining
(Reposted from sources cited below)

This posting contains (1) the May 8 declaration from Ghana's National Coalition of Civil Society Groups against Mining in Forest Reserves, (2) a press release by Global Response, one of the international environmental organizations supporting the action by Ghanaian groups, and (3) links for additional information. The Ghanaian government is expected to introduce new legislation in June opening up previously protected forest reserves. One of the major companies expected to invest is the Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corporation, Protesters earlier this month demonstrated at the company's annual meeting against the company's pressure to relax environmental regulations in Ghana.

The move comes at the same time that the United Nations Forum on Forests is meeting in Geneva to promote "the management, conservation, and sustainable development of all kinds of forests." A report prepared for that meeting says that undervaluing the economic worth of forests causes governments around the world to lose some $5 billion a year in potential taxes and royalties.

According to a report by Inter Press Service on April 2, 2003, a yet unpublished study by the World Bank's internal Operations Evaluation Department on assistance to extractive industries in Chile, Ecuador, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania concludes that the bank's push to finance investment and encourage private sector participation in extractive industries is more likely to "lead to bad development outcomes when governance is poor" for "many if not most of the bank's clients." The internal bank study criticizes the agency for inadequately analyzing risks and benefits of such investments.

[In another development concerning a U.S. mining company and Ghana, negotiations are taking place this week to resolve an ongoing dispute between the Ghanaian government and Houston-based Kaiser Aluminum. Kaiser Aluminum is still paying Ghana the rate for electricity negotiated under a 50-year contract in 1962, while the cost of electricity is now much greater.

+++++++++++++++++end summary/introduction+++++++++++++++++++++++


Campaign Against Mining in Ghana's Forest Reserves

By: National Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Mining in Forest Reserves

7-8th May 2003, Accra

Mr Chairman, Members of the press Colleagues Ladies and gentlemen

I am happy to make this presentation on behalf of the National Coalition of Civil Society Groups against Mining in Ghana's forest reserves. The presentation I am about to make focuses on concerns we as a coalition have about national decision-making efforts for mining in Ghana's forest reserves. Knowing that we are all interested in the sustainable development of our natural resources we are hopeful that by the end of the presentation many would see our campaign as justified and worthy of support.

The Government of Ghana has declared her intention to release portions of Ghana's closed forest reserves for mining. Five mining companies are already lined up for mining leases to exploit mineral resources in the forest reserves. Therefore we the Civil Society Coalition against mining in forest reserves are concerned about this decision by the government and we call on her to withdraw the decision and to revoke those mining leases if already granted. We believe that the decision to release portions of the country's forest reserves is just an entry point for opening up the entire forest reserves to mining. The decision does not only undermine the significant role that forest reserves play in the economic, environmental and social development of a people and their country but also contradicts the government's own policy on natural resource conservation.

The forest reserves in question include : Subri River Forest Reserve, a globally important bio-diversity area which is also the largest forest reserve in the country. It is also a critical watershed between major rivers -Rivers Bonsa and Pra. Others are the Supuma Shelterbelt; Opon Mansi Forest Reserve in the Western Region; Tano-Suraw and Suraw Extension also in the Western region; Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve in the Eastern region; Cape Three Points Forest Reserve in the Western region and the Atewa Range Forest Reserve in the Eastern region.

Chirano Goldmines Limited, Satelite Goldfields Limited, Nevsun/AGC, Birim/AGC and Newmont Ghana Limited are the companies fronting to mine in these reserves.

Forests reserves have important environmental and ecological linkages. They are linked to water and soil resources, genetic resources of plants and animals and to food production and food security. In particular they constitute a major source of fresh water bodies for domestic and industrial use and enhance local climatic conditions for agricultural production. In Ghana most freshwater bodies take their source from forested areas. For example, rivers Ankobra and Suraw take their source from the Tano-Suraw forest reserve, which also protects river Tano that passes through it. Clearly, if this reserve is being considered for mining then we are being confronted with serious livelihood and environmental consequences in a much larger magnitude. Forets reserves are also important to the economic and social- cultural relationship of rural communities and the nation as a whole. They create jobs, provide health and food security and help in the cultural identity of a people. It is for these and many other important reasons that Ghana Government has committed herself to several international conventions and has also enacted various legislation to protect and conserve forest and forest resources.

In spite of the important role that forest reserves play they have been undergoing qualitative and quantitative deterioration over the years. Already, much of the original vegetation of the country has been removed or considerably deteriorated. The size of existing forests and forestry resources and their adequacy for supplying critical goods and environmental influences necessary for the continued viability of local production is dwindling year after year. The nation's total forest cover has reduced from the 8.2 million hectares around 1900 to less than 1.6 million hectares as at now, which is even less than the initial 1.76 million hectares reserved as permanent forest estates. Out of the 1.6 million hectares, only 32,000 hectares representing 2% of the remaining forest reserves is said to be in excellent condition.

The government's decision to open up the forest reserves for mining is influenced by the demands of the Chamber of Mines who represent the interest of the mining industry based on their narrow economic benefits and not based on a proper assesment of the environmental and social costs to the nation. Proponents for mining in forest reserves are hiding behind what they call production zones within the forest reserves to back their claim. Clearly, it is hard to believe that mining is one of the activities that constitute productive activity in forest reserves.

Mining in forest reserves will aggravate the already alarming rate of forest degradation in the country and wreak havoc on freshwater systems and watersheds, which are already global scarce commodities, as well as the entire ecosystem and biodiversity.

Mining in forest reserves also contravenes the principles underlining the establishment of forest reserves in Ghana. The 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy of Ghana aims at `conservation and sustainable development of the nation's forest and wildlife resources for the maintenance of environmental quality and perpetual flow of optimum benefits to all segments of society'. Mining especially surface mining in forest reserves have no place in this policy objective because surface mining does not conserve, sustain the use of nor preserve biological diversity, water resources and the environment. By removing the entire forest biomass (plants and animals) biodiversity is lost, water cycle function of the forests is lost, local climate for agricultural production is seriously distorted, headwaters of streams and rivers get vanished with consequent distorted effects on domestic and industrial water supplies even in remote settlements. If these are some of the adverse effects of surface mining in forest reserves of which Ghana seeks to protect through Forest Certification, then a clear contravention is established by any attempt to permit mining in forest reserves.

The decision to permit mining in forest reserves undermines the reasons behind the establishment of statutory bodies such as the Forestry Commission and international conventions which Ghana is signatory. Ghana is signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) which all aim to conserve natural resources for sustainable development. If the country is signatory to all these conventions that seeks to protect natural resources including forest reserves and forest products and yet is permitting mining especially surface mining in forest reserves then the Government's concern about general environmental degradation is mere rhetoric.

We are deeply concerned about the lukewarm attitude successive governments in Ghana have accorded the forestry sector which unfortunately has allowed so much damage to the country's closed forest estates. This same lukewarm attitude is being used as an excuse to permit mining in forest reserves. For instance Honourable Kwadwo Adjei-Darko the outgone Minister of Mines once indicated that `...some of these areas that they are calling forest reserves are only on paper as forest reserves.' The logical implication of this statement is that the forest reserves are degraded therefore we as a nation should intensify the degradation by permitting surface mining in the forest reserves.


On the basis of the foregoing we the National Coalition of Civil Society Groups against Mining in forest reserves make the following demands:

  1. That Government should withdraw her decision to allow mining in forest reserves and also revoke all mining leases on forest reserves if already granted.
  2. Government should enact a clear cut regulatory framework that prohibits mining in forest reserves.
  3. Government should demonstrate the political will and commitment for the protection and conservation of the country's forest estates by strengthening the capacity of state institutions responsible for the protection and management of these forests estates.
  4. We call on the World Bank Group (WBG), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other Multinational Financial Institutions not to finance or support the Ghana Government and the five companies to carry out mining in forest reserves in the country.
  5. We also call on the public and the media to echo our demands and support our course.


  1. Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Afr)
  2. Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL)
  3. Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM)
  4. League of Environmental Journalist (LEJ)
  5. Food First International and Action Network (FIAN)
  6. Friends of the Earth Ghana, (FOE-Ghana)
  7. Green Earth Organisation
  8. Abantu for Development
  9. Ever Green Club of Ghana
  10. Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA)
  11. Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU)
  12. Centre for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (CERES)
  13. Federation of Environmental Journalist (FEJ)

Global Response Backs Ghana Citizens' Plea to Uphold Conservation Laws

May 13, 2003

Paula Palmer, Program Director
Global Response
P.O. Box 7490
Boulder CO 80306 USA
TEL: 303-444-0306; FAX: 303-449-9794

On May 8, a coalition of 14 environmental and human rights organizations in Ghana launched a campaign to rebuff five powerful mining companies that are trying to muscle their way into Ghana's protected forest reserves. The National Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Mining in Forest Reserves argues that these big companies should not be pressuring Ghana to change its conservation laws.

Citing Ghana's 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy and its ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Coalition is demanding that Ghanaian government officials and the mining companies uphold existing protections for the forest reserves, where mining has never been permitted. It also issued an appeal to the international community to "echo our demands and support our course."

The Coalition charges that industry giant Newmont Mining Corporation, Chirano Goldmines Limited, Satelite Goldfields Limited, Nevsun/AGC and Birim/AGC are pressuring Ghanaian authorities to open the forest reserves to mining.

Global Response, an international network for environmental action and education, is launching a letter-writing campaign, urging citizens around the world to write letters to Ghana's president and Newmont Mining Corporation's CEO. "Letters from thousands of citizens will show Ghana that the world is watching, and that we expect the government to enforce its environmental protection laws," said Global Response program director Paula Palmer.

The Boulder, Colorado-based organization led protests and street theater at Newmont's annual shareholders' meeting in Denver on May 7.

"Newmont projects an image as an industry leader in responsible mining practices," said Palmer, "but right now Newmont is pressuring Ghana to relax its environmental protection laws. That is unacceptable behavior for an industry leader."

Coalition member Daniel Owusu-Koranteng of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) has already seen too much environmental destruction and human suffering from mining. WACAM is demanding clean-up and compensation after two disastrous cyanide spills from gold mines in 2001. Recalling the toxic spills that killed fish, crabs and birds in rivers and marshlands and left thousands of villagers without safe water for drinking and agriculture, Owusu-Koranteng says, "Ghana's precious forest reserves must not suffer this fate."

"Mining in forest reserves will aggravate the already alarming rate of forest degradation in the country and wreak havoc on freshwater systems and watersheds, .as well as the entire ecosystem and biodiversity," the Coalition stated. Ghana's Ministry of Lands and Forestry reports that a mere 2 percent of the country's original forests remain intact. These savanna and tropical rain forests have over 700 different tree species and provide critical habitat for many endangered species, including rare primates and the forest elephant.

Links for Additional Information

Third World Network Africa

Bank Information Center on Ghana Mining Policy

Rainforest Web - Ghana links

"Mining Has Done Ghana No Good"
in Public Agenda (Ghana), May 8, 2003

"Whither the Mining Industry"
in Public Agenda (Ghana), May 12, 2003

"Forest Cover Slumps from 8.2 to 1.6 million Hectares"
in Accra Mail, May 22, 2003

UN Forum on Forests

UN to Consider Groundbreaking Report on Forests

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Date distributed (ymd): 030528
Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +economy/development+

The Africa Action E-Journal is a free information service provided by Africa Action, including both original commentary and reposted documents. Africa Action provides this information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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