The Government of Ghana has signaled its intention to mine the Atewa Forest Reserve for Bauxite. But this action will greatly affect the ecosystem services the forest provides. Atewa Forest is the finest example of Upland Evergreen Forest in the Upper Guinean Forest region: its altitude causes a distinctive type of vegetation to grow that is extremely rare and very rich in species, including:
- Over 70 species classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable by the IUCN, such as the Togo Slippery Frog Conraua derooi;
- At least 50 species of mammals, including the recently discovered White-naped MangabeyCercocebus lunulatus which is Critically Endangered;
- Over 1,000 species of plants and 230 species of birds, including the Nimba FlycatcherMelaenornis annamarulae found nowhere else in Ghana;
- Over 570 species of butterflies already recorded, out of potentially 700 species – which would make Atewa the richest forest for butterflies in West Africa.
In our report to the Government of Ghana with support from IUCN Netherlands, we demonstrate the forest’s enormous importance to the water supply of five million people in Accra, and make a compelling economic case for protecting Atewa Forest as a National Park.
But the Government is planning to let Chinese companies mine the bauxite deposits found in the hilltops of Atewa Forest – these are spread over a wide area, and would require the forest to be removed. The resulting barren landscape would be impossible to restore to its former condition.
Atewa as a National Park would be a lasting, positive legacy for the Government of Ghana. This option has great public support amongst forest edge communities, and would honour Ghana’s commitment to the international Convention on Biological Diversity and to the Sustainable Development Goals. This is in stark contrast to the loss that would be experienced should the hills be mined.
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