The President of the Methodist Conference, Most Rev. Dr Robert K. Aboagye-Mensah, has made an appeal to the government and policy makers in the forestry sector to prevent the mining of mineral resources in forest reserves.
He said the government and policy makers should not be complicit with others interested in destroying the forest of the country for mineral resources.
In his address as the guest speaker at the 10 anniversary celebrations of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), Rev Dr Aboagye-Mensah, who is also the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, also charged the government to work out in detail the benefits of gold in relation with the growing of food crops to help in decision to use land in surface mining in parts of the country.
He said evidence suggested that people living in areas where surface mining for gold occurred sometimes did not have basic foodstuffs to consume.
Rev Dr Aboagye-Mensah said the impact of the recent food crisis was not really felt in Ghana because of the availability of local food stuffs, such as, cocoa yam, yam and plantain.
In his view, the unchecked and uncontrolled extraction of mineral resources and its resultant effects of depleting land cover would lead to the total loss of indigenous foodstuffs.
Rev Dr Aboagye-Mensah said his belief in protecting the environment stemmed from his belief in God as creator of the environment, a great resource that God the Creator had committed to men and women to manage well.
He said as good stewards, any use of mineral resources in the land had to be undertaken sustainably to benefit all and the environment itself, as well as future generations.
“African cultural values enjoins us to think about children yet unborn in all actions, yet policies do not take this into consideration,” he pointed out.
He commended WACAM and said they were a voice for the voiceless and charged them to discharge all actions, duties and responsibilities with the interest of others and the country first.
The Executive Director of WACAM, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, in his address, undertook a review of the activities of WACAM and raised certain issues of importance in the sector that needed to be redressed.
He said the activities of WACAM for the past ten years had increased awareness of mining issues in the sector, helped in building the capacity of some people living in mining communities to become advocates locally and internationally and helped in policy directives that benefited people living in mining communities.
Mr Owusu-Korangteng said the country did not have “No Go Zones” in the mining sector a situation that made it possible for any mining company to mine even the Akosombo Dam if gold or other mineral resources were thought to be buried beneath it.
The mining of railway lines, cemeteries, sacred sites, churches, mosques, rivers, forest reserves and other such sites, smacked or a recklessness on the part of the government and called on it to declare forest reserves and other strategic areas as “No Go Zones” for Mining.
Prof Atta Britum of the University of Cape Coast chaired the function, while solidarity messages were read by representatives of the WACAM students’ wing, Third World Network (TWN), Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) and other partners of WACAM.