Professor Urges Legislation Repeal Against Mining in Ghanaian Forest Reserves

Accra – Prof Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah, a retired botany professor from the University of Ghana, has joined forces with Civil Society Organisations to oppose mining in Ghana’s forest reserves. This move aligns with recent demands from the Media Coalition Against Galamsey and OccupyGhana for legislative action against mining in these critical biodiversity areas.

According to Ghana News Agency, who spoke at a public lecture at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in Accra, the current legislation, the Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulations, 2022 (L.I. 2462), is detrimental to public interest. He called for its repeal by Parliament, emphasizing the need to preserve the ecosystem integrity of the country. His remarks were part of a series of lectures by GAAS marking the 2023 Founder’s Week celebration.

The professor, who also chairs the Trusteeship Board of A Rocha Ghana, an environmental advocacy group, expressed deep concern over human activities that endanger the environment and, consequently, human existence. He advocated for a response characterized by regret, lament, repentance, reflection, and action to the environmental crisis facing the nation.

Highlighting Ghana’s environmental crisis as a threat to development, cohesion, and livelihoods, Prof Oteng-Yeboah called for urgent steps to avoid undermining nation-building progress. He recommended a ban on future exploitation of wetlands and other wilderness areas until a thorough evaluation and assessment of existing damage is conducted.

He tasked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) with pursuing their environmental mandates. Additionally, he urged Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to enforce environmental by-laws strictly.

Prof Oteng-Yeboah further suggested suspending proposed petrochemical hub projects in Keta and Nzema until the ecosystem impacts are fully studied and remedies for damages are confirmed. He also advocated for the immediate cessation of the mining license for gold mining in the Amanzule area of the Western Region, citing its detrimental impact on the aquatic wetland ecosystem and local livelihoods.

In his call to action, the professor urged traditional leaders to play an active role in maintaining a clean and secure environment. He also emphasized the need for national consciousness and patriotism among state institutions and staff responsible for managing environmental resources. He concluded by suggesting a collaboration between the NDPC and the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) with the Minerals and Lands Commissions, to provide knowledge about the effective and sustainable use of Ghana’s natural resources.