A key outcome at COP26 was the promise, signed up to by more than 130 governments, to end deforestation by 2030. One of the original signatory governments was that of Ghana. Senior staff of our sister organisation, A Rocha Ghana attended the conference as part of the wider A Rocha family delegation. While there, with the support of the A Rocha UK Press Officer, they highlighted their eight-year long campaign to save the pristine Atewa Forest from mining, and have it be declared a National Park. The protection of this area will not only secure local livelihoods which depend on the healthy forest, but it will save it as a carbon sink for greenhouse gasses.
The Atewa Forest is home to both globally threatened and endemic species. It also provides fresh water to over 5 million people from rivers that rise in, and are fed by, the rainforest. Speaking on BBC World Service ‘Focus on Africa’ programme in November, Assistant Director of A Rocha Ghana Daryl Bosu explained “the biggest threat to the forest right now is government plans to mine bauxite which is found under the forest. However the bauxite reserve is small and of low quality. The sources of water come from the forest and local people’s livelihoods are dependent on the forest as it has its own microclimate, so it is crucial that the forest is not mined. A lot of people have risen up and come on the streets to demonstrate and have sent petitions to secure the forest for now and the future” ”
Seth Appiah-Kubi, National Director of A Rocha Ghana added: “Our government must listen to local people and call off the mining plans. Signing agreements to end deforestation by 2030 is meaningless if it proceeds with its destructive plans”.
At COP26, Nature-based Solutions to climate change were on the agenda for the first time and protecting forests like Atewa from further damage is where the drive to restore our carbon sinks must start. Andy Lester, Head of Conservation at A Rocha UK, said “This amazing forest can only be saved by addressing community, conservation and climate needs simultaneously. Moreover, if we are serious about combating climate change, then governments need to realise that places like Atewa can no longer be cleared for purposes such as mining. To avoid catastrophic climate change, we still have to slash global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and protect remaining forests.”
Thank you to all those who have supported the Save The Atewa Forest campaign by signing the online petition and writing to their MPs. Support the campaign here.