A portion of the Atewa Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region has been cleared by a mining company to begin mining operations in the rainforest.
About 11 trees have so far been uprooted by the unknown company and a small pit dug at the Kobreso side of the reserve.
Local officials of the Forestry Commission say they cannot tell whether the portion cleared is part of the company’s concession.
“We don’t know whether it is part of their concession or they are encroaching” Begoro District Forest Manager, Kwame Oteng Awuah told 3news.com Friday, noting the company has for some time now been mining near the forest boundary at Kobreso.
Residents in the area, who discovered the activity of the mining company on Monday, notified local officials of the Forestry Commission who moved in to stop the company from continuing with its operations within the reserve.
Workers of the company were said to have moved into the reserve again on April 2 but the forest officials showed up again to stop them from working.
Mr Awuah, who confirmed the incident to 3news.com Thursday, noted the mining company has so far caused what he termed “minimal destruction” to the reserve from the Kobreso side.
According him, the mining company whose name is yet to be established, has been working outside the forest, but finally encroached on the forest April 1, just few metres from the boundary.
He said when they arrived at the scene Monday, the mining company had gone “10 meters inside the forest. They were cutting the edge of the mountain in the reserve so we had to stop them”.
On April 2, he said the workers for the company took to their heels when forest officials together with the assemblyman and some local residents of the Kobreso area showed up at the scene.
Mr Awuah said they have since intensified their patrols in the area, adding the excavator, pumping and washing machines for the company have now been moved outside the reserve.
“From our [preliminary] investigations, they [workers of the company] were sent by somebody who is supposed to be a politician but we don’t know who that politician is,” he told 3news.com.
According to Mr Awuah, they have notified the inter-ministerial mining committee on illegal mining in the area about the situation, saying “We are with touch with the taskforce”
“We have also mounted pegs with red banners at the boundary of the forest.
Government is nursing plans to do what it termed “responsible mining” in the forest said to have high deposits of bauxite, but some civil society groups have kicked against the move claiming it would destroy the rainforest and the livelihood of the locals.
The rainforest is home to three important rivers in the country, is source of water for over 5 million Ghanaians