The Forestry Commission has revealed that 34 out of 288 forest reserves in the country are currently under threat due to illegal mining activities known as ‘galamsey’.
This comes at a time government’s fight against the menace has been questioned following a report put together by the former chairman of the defunct Inter-Ministerial Committee on illegal mining, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, accusing government officials of engaging in the menace.
The report by Prof. Frimpong-Baoteng raised concerns over permits given to mine in some forest reserves and buffers.
Speaking at a press conference on the state of Ghana’s Forest Reserves, the CEO of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey said the level of devastation in the affected reserves is dire.
“34 out of 288 reserves have been affected. These are areas we have significant illegal mining. The total area mapped is about 4,726.2 hectares. This is only the size of the surface, some of these impact is fully in whole. And they excavate lots of materials that will impact the forest. It’s not only the size but the impact on our water bodies and the depth of the holes created. A lot more would have to be done to be able to reclaim the land,” he stated.
Reacting to Prof. Frimpong-Boateng’s report, Minister in Charge of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor says the government’s fight to clamp down on illegal mining activities should not be judged based on portions of the report.
“I found the work of the IMICM valuable, and I am working with my team to factor into the things we are doing today. There are things about the work I may not adopt today for many reasons because the terrain may have changed and so on and so forth. The report doesn’t capture my stewardship till today. I have heard people say that the report shows that government has failed, that I have failed, the report didn’t capture my tenure. The report cannot be sacrosanct, what is important is that we remain focused,” he said.