Protecting the Atewa Range Forest Reserve against bauxite mining threats
8th February 2021
The KBA Secretariat welcomes the news that three global manufacturing leaders, BMW Group, Tetra Pak and Schüco International, have expressed their concerns regarding the mining of bauxite in Atewa Range Forest Reserve.
In a positive move for business sustainability, community-led activism and global conservation, the three companies, all members of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), have further expressed their unwillingness to accept into their supply chains any aluminium sourced from bauxite mined in Atewa Range Forest Reserve.
Located in north eastern Ghana, Ghana’s Atewa Forest is home to more than 1,000 species of plants, 230 species of birds, 570 butterfly species, and at least 50 species of mammals. Of these, four species are listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, many more as Vulnerable and 5 potentially endemic species. It is a Key Biodiversity Area, meaning that it is critical to the persistence of global biodiversity and the overall health of the planet, as well as meeting the conditions for Alliance for Zero Extinction status.
The forest is an important watershed where the headwaters of three rivers and many smaller streams arise. The three rivers, the Ayensu, Densu and Birim together provide clean water daily for over 5 million people, amongst other critical ecosystem services that so many of Ghana’s people depend on for their daily lives.
Extracting bauxite in Atewa would require ‘strip mining’ where the whole surface layer of soil is removed. This would mean a total loss of the forest in the mined areas, along with all the biodiversity including habitats for Endangered and endemic species. Bauxite mining poses a great danger for polluting the water sources that so many communities and downstream users depend on.
There has been very strong community-led resistance to the mining of Atewa within Ghana, mainly by A Rocha Ghana. The combined efforts of these community activists to raise awareness of the impacts of bauxite mining and protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services of Atewa can only be praised and admired. It is hoped their successes inspire other communities and community-led organisations in their challenges to protect their environments against similar detrimental and long-lasting developments. For more information see video.