Natural resources are the pride of many countries in Africa. These resources include minerals like gold, diamonds, wildlife and forests. Most of the countries in Africa derived their means of livelihood from these resources. For instance in Ghana, most of the rural folks and some of the urban population depends on water bodies like the Densu and the Ayensu rivers for their source of water supply. The survival of these communities are tied with the survival of these resources. It is therefore crucial that these natural resources are protected from pollution and their eventual extinction if the people of Ghana will survive. It is with this backdrop that securing Atewa is of such importance to Ghana.
Atewa Forest is one of the forest reserves in Ghana. It is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, including some 228 species of birds, 52 species of mammals and 32 species of amphibians. (source: Ghana Wildlife Society).
The forest is internationally recognized as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA). The forest also provide water for some 5 million Ghanaians and it is crucial to the supply of water to the Weija Dam for electricity generation. The beautiful Atewa forest with its rich biodiversity is threatened by government’s decision to mine bauxite in it for economic gains.
THE ATEWA EXHIBITION
Due to the above mentioned threat against the Atewa Forest Reserve, A Rocha Ghana, an environmental conservation Non-governmental organization launched the Atewa Exhibition on the 30th of January, 2019 at the British Council, under the theme, “Securing Atewa for Prosperity and Wellbeing beyond Today.”
The program started with the exhibition of the diverse wildlife and plants species in the Atewa forest. Some of the species discovered are considered the only one in the entire world, hence making the Atewa forest a habitat for many endangered species including the beautiful Atewa Dotted Border; a breed of butterfly that can only be found in Atewa Forest.
The main program was ushered in with the introduction of the chairperson, who happened to be Professor Alfred A. Oteng-Yeboah Arocha Ghana Trusteeship Group member. His introduction was followed by a speech by Mr. Seth Appiah-Kubi, on the current state of the Atewa forest and the need to join in the effort to ensuring that the Atewa Forest is converted into a park to boost tourism and enhance the livelihood of the neighboring communities. This would also protect and preserve the the resources contained in the forest including the rivers that
many Ghanaians depend for their water supply.
A plea by the lead of the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape to the president, immediately followed. He mentioned the numerous benefits that come from securing Atewa and withdrawing Atewa Forest from the bauxite mining agreement. This included the safeguarding of our precious water bodies that serve some 5 millions Ghanaians, the protection of the diverse plants and animal species in the forest and the economic benefit to the neighboring communities and the country as a whole . He also stated that the benefits of accepting their proposal to make Atewa Forest a park far outweigh that of mining bauxite from it, both long-term and short term, according to their economic analysis.
Report and Exhibition Launch
The next section started with the chairman’s speech during which he launched the 80-page report on the findings from the research on the Atewa Forest which supports securing Atewa. The report contains information on the rich biodiversity in the Atewa Forest and why securing Atewa forest is good for the country. His main section ended with the official inauguration of the Atewa Exhibition by a delegate from the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands (IUCN NL). The Exhibition is one of the numerous efforts to save the Atewa Forest and all of its rich biodiversity from extinction; a fight that we all ought to take up for the survival of our beloved nation. The Exhibition is one at the British Council until 7pm Saturday 2nd February.
INTERVIEW WITH MR. JOHNSON OFORI ODURO; YOUTH PARTNER, AROCHA GHANA
What is the aim of this exhibition?
The exhibition is geared primarily towards the salvation of the Atewa Forest and its resources especially, the water bodies that serves as a water supply to over 5 million Ghanaians.
Do you feel your efforts are yielding the desired results?
Yes! This is evidence in the numerous stakeholders present at the event today, including the numerous international organization of which the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands (IUCN NL) is part.
What is the way forward?
We will continue to advocate for the protection of the Atewa forest from harmful activities and we are positive that our efforts will see Atewa become a fruitful forest reserved (park) that will improve the livelihood of all Ghanaians.