The Ghanaian Forestry Commission has raised concerns about the destruction of forests in the West African country due to illegal mining activities.
At a news conference held in Accra on Tuesday, the commission’s head, John Allotey, stated that seven out of Ghana’s 16 regions had been affected by the practice. A total of 34 out of 288 forest reserves have been affected, causing an estimated loss of 4,726 hectares of forest.
Illegal mining not only reduces the size of forests but also contaminates rivers and leaves behind large holes that are difficult to rehabilitate, Allotey said. The mining industry in Ghana is dominated by both large global players and artisanal miners, many of whom operate illegally.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has promised to eradicate illegal mining activities since he assumed office in 2017. Despite launching operations against illegal sites, including the removal of excavators, the practice has continued.
The main drivers of deforestation in Ghana are the expansion of agricultural areas, illegal logging, forest fires, overgrazing, infrastructure development, and illegal mining.
Ghana, which is home to a tropical forest rich in biodiversity with diverse species of trees and animals, has revised its laws and put in place measures to protect its forests.
However, insufficient law enforcement, corruption, and unemployment have fuelled deforestation activities. Environmentalist Nehemiah Odjer-Bio of Friends of the Earth has called for more funding and the intensification of surveillance to protect Ghana’s forests.