Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has called for enhanced national dialogue on the sustainable exploitation of Ghana’s minerals, forest and wildlife resources to ensure that the lives of the living and generations yet unborn are not adversely affected by unregulated exploitation.
He warned that the nation risks losing its forest cover, as well as the many beautiful rivers and streams, if negative practices such as illegal mining and indiscriminate wood harvesting and burning are not curtailed. Dr Bawumia accordingly called for increased collaboration and engagements with stakeholders, especially those directly affected by such activities, to address the looming danger.
The Vice-President made the call at the 2nd Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining and Deforestation held in Tamale.
The programme was organised by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources under the theme ‘Sustainable Small Scale Mining and Forest Conservation for National Development.’
It brought together traditional authorities, Regional Ministers of all five northern regions, Members of Parliament, leadership of the Parliamentary Select Committees on Lands, Forestry, Environment and Mining, representatives of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners and captains of the mining and forestry industries.
Stop the exploitation
According to Dr Bawumia, many livelihoods depend on mining and the exploitation of forest resources. He therefore noted that the contribution of the mineral and forest resources to Ghana’s national development agenda cannot be overemphasized.
He noted that the exploitation of these resources had not been without certain negative impacts on the natural environment “because of the unsustainable practices that we employ, leading to pollution of water bodies, chemical pollution.”
“The northern sector of Ghana lies within a fragile ecological setting and, therefore, has its own peculiar challenges as far as natural resource exploitation is concerned. The north is particularly challenged with forest degradation as a result of over exploitation of trees, especially rosewood for export, excessive reliance on fuel-wood, and charcoal production.
“These continue to be major challenges, including rampant annual fires which have dire consequences on climate change and its adverse impacts on our livelihoods and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he added.
He stressed that a discussion on sustainable exploitation devoid of politics is the best way to arrive at a national solution.
“Sustainability is key in our quest to exploit our diverse minerals, forest and wildlife resources, to ensure that we are able to meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
“Ghana has beautiful and majestic rivers and streams. Unfortunately, today, there is not much to celebrate about our water bodies and wildlife habitats because of unacceptable mining and logging practices and other drivers of deforestation.
“The call for the national dialogue is to enable us to have a national consensus on sustainable methods of using the minerals and forest resources of our country without appealing to partisanship. Indeed, issues relating to the exploitation of our natural resources are aspects of our national life which must be insulated from partisan politics,” he stated.
He added: “Illegal mining and logging on our lands and in our forests happen within communities. We are aware of these illegal activities as members of these communities. While recognising that those engaged in illegal mining and logging activities have livelihood concerns, we should equally recognise that their activities have adverse impact on farmers, on our food security, and on our common survival. Everyone here today should be, and is, concerned about this dangerous menace.”