28 June 2017

Sacrificing Atiwa Forest for ‘China Bauxite’ wrong – Inusah Fuseini

China’s move to commit to $15 billion into Ghana’s economy could have some far reaching implications on the environment, given the deal will be anchored by Ghana’s natural resources, specifically bauxite.

Voicing some concerns on the developments, the Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, indicated that, potential mining of Bauxite could see the forest reserve in Kyebi compromised.

Aside bauxite from Nyinahin, which could be explored, the former Lands and Natural Resources Minister noted that “the bauxite at Kyebi is low grade, but it is under the Kyebi forest reserve which has been declared a global biodiversity area because of the presence of exotic species.”

“The UN is protecting the forest to ensure that we continue to get the benefit of these exotic species, the plants and fauna that are in the forest.”

That particular forest reserve also serves as a catchment area for some rivers; the Birim and the Pra, the MP added.

Thus, Alhaji Fuseini intimated that, the effect on the environment would not be worth the money to be gained from the Chinese because, “if you do national resource accounting, the resources over there, which is renewable, is definitely more than $15 billion dollars.”

He noted further that, government would have to do a cost benefit analysis of the situation “because if the forest is destroyed, we lose the protection under the UN, secondly, we risk losing the natural water that flows from the reserves and serves as drinking water for many people whose communities are benefiting from the river bodies.”

This will result in challenges with the UN because the area is protected and problems with communities that are there “because the mining of the reserves will destroy the water bodies.”

In light of all these, the MP said all would be revealed when the deal is brought before Parliament.

“It will be interesting to know what conspiracies have gone into leveraging our bauxite for a Chinese facility and I know that if that is the case, the whole transaction would have to come before Parliament,” he said.

According to the analysis of A Rocha Ghana, a conservationist NGO, which visited the area in May 2017, bauxite extraction would reduce the value of the Atiwa Forest for water consumption by $386.9 million over 30 years, and for agricultural water by $22.7 million with the estimated economic gains from bauxite deemed as much smaller in comparison.

By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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