55 Illegal Miners Arrested In Atewa Forest - Forestry Commission

55 Illegal Miners Arrested In Atewa Forest - Forestry Commission



The Forestry Commission, through its surveillance task force has arrested 55 illegal miners in the Atewa Forest Reserve over the last six months. Madam Joyce Ofori Kwafo, Head, Corporate Affairs and Media Relations, Forestry Commission, in an interview said a total of 15 different operations carried out between October 2021


and March 2022 led to the arrest of the culprits. In the last six months, Forestry Commission staff in the Eastern Region, together with the military and police have conducted 15-night operations in the Atewa Forest Reserve. She said 11 of them had been sentenced whilst the rest have their cases pending before the



Circuit Court B, Koforidua, adding that 16 pumping machines had also been confiscated and were in the custody of the Commission’s Kyebi district office.The task force had similarly seized from the miners four chainsaw machines, two monkey jacks, and two locally manufactured guns which are also in the custody of the



Commission at the district office. Some residents, including a group called “Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape,” had raised fears over the logging, mining, and farming activities in the reserve, threatening its biodiversity. The group alleged that the Commission’s staff at the Kyebi district had also been negligent in



discharging their duties of protecting the forest and had connived with persons undertaking the illegality. But Madam Joyce Ofori Kwafo, insists it is not true that the Commission staff are sitting aloof, and illegal mining is on-going in the reserve. She also said in their quest to protect the forest reserve, seven of their staff had been



attacked and injured by some chainsaw operators in the last seven months. Madam Ofori Kwafo, however, called on the group to lodge a complaint with the Commission, detailing the various infractions and personnel involved in the alleged negligence and connivance. The Commission would launch a full investigation into the



issue and whoever would be found culpable would be dealt with, she added. The Atewa Forest is said to be an internationally recognised biodiversity area of global significance, with 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 many Ghanaians depend on. The 17,400-hectare forest is home to more than 1,000 plant species, 230 species of birds, 570 butterfly species, and at least 50 species of mammals. Some animal species like the Mangabey



Monkey, Togo Slippery Frog, Afia Birago Puddle Frog, Atewa Dotted Border (Butterfly) and Blue-Moustached Bee-Eater (Bird), indigenous to the Forest, are considered Critically Endangered (CR) on International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species and many more as vulnerable and 5 potentially endemic species.