“As much as we need to mine, we have to set boundaries so as not to compromise the wellbeing of the community”, says Christian conservationist group A Rocha Ghana.
The entity organised, among other things, several days of peaceful picketing to call for the repeal of the law, which was passed in November 2022.
The law “poses a significant threat to the hard-earned progress in Ghana’s sustainable forest management over the past decade. It introduces vulnerabilities and undermines the country’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions”, Daryl Bosu, the A Rocha Ghana's deputy national director, told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
[photo_footer] A mine in Ghana / Ghana Web. [/photo_footer]
Online magazine GH Environment reports that the minister of lands and natural resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, explained that the intention of the law had been misinterpreted by environmentalist organisations.
At a public hearing, Jinapor emphasised that entering in a forest reserve to mine it is not as easy as some critics claim: “Even me the minister, I cannot enter a forest reserve without a forest entry permit, so whatever activity one wants to take in the forest reserve requires a forest entry permit”.
However, for A Rocha Ghana, “it is abundantly clear that no forest reserve in our country will be spared from the destructive impacts of the government's aggressive mining pursuits facilitated by this legislation”.
Bosu stressed that the law “contradicts the government’s commitment in the Forest and Climate Leadership Partnership, a role Ghana shares with the United States of America”.
[photo_footer] A landscape in Zuarungu, northeastern Ghana / Michael Behrens, Unsplash. [/photo_footer]
The Christian NGO gives some reasons why the new law represents a step backwards in the protection of the forest reserves.
First, the “permitted size” of the production areas of forest reserves to be mined, which has passed of a maximum of 2% in 2018, to no size restrictions with the new law. Secondly, the controversy for the so called “prohibited areas”, where the president can approve mining if it is “in the national interest”.
They are also concerned about “the distinction between prospecting and mining”, pointing out that while the procedures for searching for minerals, currently banned in all forest reserves, are very strict, those for mineral exploitation are not.
Furthermore, they denounce that “there does not appear to be any firm requirement for forest restoration”.
[photo_footer]A group of people on one of the picket lines organised by A Rocha Ghana to protest against L.I. 2462 last August. / @arochaghana [/photo_footer]
In August, A Rocha Ghana organised two days of pickets across the country, where people took on the streets holding signs with slogans such as “Forest reserves must be fully protected from legal and illegal mining”, or “No mining in forest reserves”.
They insisted that “it is never our position that, Ghana as a developing country should not explore its mineral resources”, but that, “as much as we need to mine, we need to set boundaries, so we do not compromise community wellbeing as well as environmental safeguards, also critical for sustainable socio-economic development”.
That is why they asked the government “to set no-go areas, so our critical watersheds and biodiversity hotspots, relevant for the provisioning of other critical ecosystems services, can be secured now and for the future”.
When the last tree is cut and the last river is polluted, you will realise that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.#RepealLI2462 #RevokeLI2462Now #notocommunitymining #keepofforests@gyemgh @mlnrgovgh @fcghana2020 @parliament_gh @EPA_Ghana @mincommgh pic.twitter.com/kWrXmN74KY
— A Rocha Ghana (@arochaghana) August 18, 2023
Moreover, Bosu warned that “mining goes against other critical needs of the economy and displaces our land uses like water provisioning, habitat for biodiversity, which is responsible for climate mitigation and adaptation, wellbeing, health as well as food security”.
[title] Christian commitment to the environment [/title]
[text]The level of commitment to the care of creation that Christians should take has recently been analysed and debated in different countries, such as in the United States, where evangelicals are the religious group most sceptical about climate change, or in France, where some fear that environmentalism is becoming “a new religion”.
“That is why we are committed to inspiring people as we work to equip people to care for nature through advocacy, improved livelihoods, sustainable natural resource management and interfaith dialogue that hinges on research and education”.
Furthermore, they lamented that “Christian work on creation care is shrouded in too much bureaucracy”.
“Faith without works is meaningless, so we need to see our faith translated into impactful action. We are not engaging enough with the political systems that are shaping the fate of of creation, and it is time we move strategically to start influencing”, they added.
According to Bosu, “we need to deal with our own weaknesses of just looking after people of our faith only and also care about the wellbeing of persons of other faiths and other societies… that is the only we can show love to our neighbour".[/text]