News / Africa

    Illegal Miners in Ghana Moving into Restricted Forest Areas

    Joana Mantey
    Illegal mining is posing severe challenges to mining communities in Ghana. The unlawful practice is gradually shifting to restricted forest areas with dire consequences to the environment.

    Illegal mining is a major source of income for people living in mining areas. They work by digging pits close to the mining enclaves of big companies. But now, a new trend is evolving and people are beginning to exploit land for mineral wealth in protected forest areas.

    Cudjoe Awudi, a corporate planning manager at Ghana’s Forestry Commission, says those who engage in such acts are flouting the laws of the country.

    “People sneak into the reserves at night. Sometimes we can’t identify them. We have challenges of personnel and logistics," said Awudi.

    There are more than 270 such forest reserves in Ghana. They serve as sources of lumber as well as protection for some river bodies. However, inappropriate practices by the illegal miners are causing the loss of timber resources. Awudi said land degradation and cyanide spillage was also polluting affected soil and water bodies.

    “It affects those downstream of the river. For example, Densu river in the Atiwa forest reserve. It supplies water to about 65 percent of Accra’s population. So if we don’t take care, then Accra may not get water. So we are trying to flush out the illegal miners, otherwise, cost of treatment of water will go up,” he said.

    Other affected areas include Manzam and Tano Offin forest reserves in the western region of Ghana.  Awudi said although gold prices have fallen on the world market, it still attracted local and foreign interests.

    “Majority are Ghanaians but the Chinese have joined them to give them better technology. Then there are people from Mali and Burkina Faso. There is a case in northern Ghana where people from Ivory Coast and Mali entered a reserve called Bui National Park where the dam is. We just flushed them out,” he said.

    The government of Ghana is working with community groups and law enforcement agencies to deal with the problem. However, a community based human rights group, WACAM, said more drastic measures should be adopted in dealing with the challenge. It said a mining law that allows two percent concessionary rights in restricted forests to multinational companies must be reviewed.

    “The Ajenua Bepo forest reserve has been given as concession to Newmont. The Kubi forest reserve has been given to Anglogold to mine. Protected forest is not a product that you can pick and choose from; its whole. So once you start destroying elements, no matter how small, you destroy the integrity of the forest,” said Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, a director at WACAM.

    Owusu-Koranteng said new provisions must prevent companies from externalizing their social, cultural and environmental costs to society. Penalties for violating the law must also be tightened to help prevent cyanide spillage.

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora