The Kakum National Park, one of the most visited tourist sites in Ghana located in the coastal environs of the Central Region is now being targeted for mining.
Thus, a company named High Street Ltd for Mining has applied for a mining license from the Minerals Commission seeking to mine 24% of the reserve. Information gleaned from the website of the Minerals Commission revealed that the application is still under consideration.
Making this startled revelation in Accra at a Stakeholders Engagement on the policy implication of L.I. 2462, the Director of Nature and Development Foundation, Mr Mustapha Seidu said, it is strange for anybody to even conceive the idea of mining at the treasured Kakum National Park.
The biodiversity of the Kakum National Park
The Kakum National Park covers an area of 375 square kilometres (145 sq mi). Established in 1931 as a reserve, it was gazetted as a national park only in 1992 after an initial survey of avifauna was conducted.
The area is covered with tropical forest. The uniqueness of this park lies in the fact that it was established at the initiative of the local people and not by the State Department of Wildlife who are responsible for wildlife preservation in Ghana. It is one of few locations in Africa with a canopy walkway, which is 350 metres (1,150 ft) long and connects seven tree tops which provide access to the forest.
The most notable endangered species of fauna in the park are the Diana monkey, giant bongo antelope, yellow-backed duiker and African elephant. It is also an Important Bird Area recognized by the Bird Life International with the bird area fully overlapping the park area. The bird inventory confirmed 266 species in the park, including eight species of global conservation concern.
One of these species of concern is the white-breasted guineafowl Nine species of hornbill and the grey parrot have been recorded. And it also has more than 600 butterflies as well, and a new species was discovered in 1993. As of 2012, the densest population of forest elephants in Ghana is located in Kakum. The Museums and Monuments Board of the Republic of Ghana has proposed that UNESCO declare the park a natural World Heritage Site under criteria vii and x. The submission made in 2000 is listed under the tentative List of World Heritage Sites. According to the Ghana Tourism Survey, more than 100,000 tourists across the globe visited the park last year, making it the second highest in the country after the Aburi Botanical Gardens.
Blame L.I. 2462
According to Mr Mustapha, Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 2462 passed in November last year has given unfettered access to the destruction of Ghana’s protected forest reserve and it is no surprise that a company is daring to mine at the Kakum National Park. He said, that by coming into force of L.I. 2462, both production and protective forest reserves are candidate mining sites with no limitation on the total percentage of forest reserve area that can be put under mining.
Participants at the workshop
This, he said, was contrary to the 2019 Guideline which limited prospecting and mining to only 2% of the production forest reserve areas and limited prospecting and mining operations to only production forest reserves. “Before L.I. 2462 came into force in November 2022, our records indicate that there were only three mining operations in production forest reserves. Please take note that since November 2022, eight (8) new mining licences have been granted to mine in forest reserves including Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBA)”, he revealed. The forests are the Draw River Forest Reserve which is a GSBA, Neung South Forest Reserve also a GSBA, Boin Tano Forest Reserve another GSBA, Mamiri Forest Reserve, Nkrabia Forest Reserve, Tano Anwia Forest Reserve and the Oda River Forest Reserve. “As we speak, there are 14 more applications under different stages of consideration by the Minerals Commission including an application by High Street Ltd for mining in the Kakaum National Park.
That application is under validation and covers 24% of the reserve, according to the Mineral Commissions website”, he added. Mr Mustapha indicated that, in all, mining licences granted and the applications so far affect 15 forest reserves with a total combined concession area of more than 95,000 ha. “We already have enough on our hands with the destruction of our forest by illegal miners. If in less than one year of LI2462, we are seeing this massive legal destruction of our forest reserves, we cannot imagine what will happen in the next five (5) years to a decade”. “We know that we cannot grow food everywhere, we cannot build houses everywhere and it is indeed a common knowledge that, we cannot mine everywhere, so why should we open all forest reserves for mining”, he added.
LI 2462 will effectively roll back all gains
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