31 July 2017

Atewa forest reserve under threat from bauxite mining- Scientists fear

Ghana risks losing valuable wildlife, if plans to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region materializes.

That is the fear of a scientist at the Forest Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Dr. Caleb Ofori-Boateng says it is a price the country will have to pay with the proposed 15 billion dollar Ghana- China joint venture.

He was speaking at the 17th African Amphibian Working Group Meeting in Kumasi.

According to environmental group, Save the Frogs, the country is home to 84 known amphibian species.

They are made up of 78 frogs, 5 toads, a caecilian which looks like a cross between an eel and an earthworm.

Unfortunately, they are becoming extinct due to mining and other forms of pollution by human beings.

Atewa Range Forest Reserve, said to hold huge bauxite deposits, is one of the priority ecosystems in Ghana.

But with the government’s bid to mine bauxite in Atewa which has culminated in the joint venture with China,  there are fears the Atewa Forest would be tampered with.

Dr. Caleb Ofori-Boateng fears Ghana stands to lose valuable worth of wildlife if the reserve is mined.

“We are calling on the government to exclude the Atewa Reserve from that deal because it has a unique ecosystem and has unique species you’ll never find anywhere else,” he said.

“If for instance there’s an outbreak of disease worse than Ebola and the only species that has the cure lives in the Atewa hills and we sell it for billions of dollars, it means we’re all going to die,” he warned.

Amphibian scientists from across the world are in Ghana to discuss progress and way forward in amphibian research and protection.

Head of Science Department, German Museum of Natural History, Dr. Mark-Oliver Rodel is hopeful of improved research outcomes in Africa.

He is happy young African scientists are increasingly developing interest in Amphibian research.

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