In the Eastern Region of Ghana you will find an extraordinary forest reserve, The Atewa Forest. It is internationally recognised as one of the most important ecosystems in West Africa, not only because it is rich in such a diverse range of wildlife species, including many critically endangered, but it is also the source of water for over 5 million people in Ghana.
The incredible beauty of the Atewa Forest
The altitude of the Atewa Forest causes a distinctive type of vegetation to grow that is extremely rare and very rich in species, including:
• Over 70 species classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable by the IUCN, such as the Togo Slippery Frog Conraua derooi;
• At least 50 species of mammals, including the recently discovered White-naped Mangabey Cercocebus lunulatus which is Critically Endangered;
• Over 1,000 species of plants and 230 species of birds, including the Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae found nowhere else in Ghana;
• Over 570 species of butterflies already recorded, out of potentially 700 species – which would make Atewa the richest forest for butterflies in West Africa.
The Critically Endangered White-naped Mangabey, one of 100's of at risk species living in Atewa Forest
Atewa Forest is not just important for the wildlife living there, but also vital to the people of Ghana. It is the source of three important rivers—the Densu, Birim and Ayensu Rivers—that provide water to more than 5 million Ghanaians. The forest and rivers also support the livelihoods of local communities and farmers who live on the forest’s fringes.
As is the case in so many abundant environments, we can also find many natural minerals, such as bauxite, that are being sought after by those who wish to capitalize without concern for the negative impact on the ecosystem. The Government of Ghana is planning to let Chinese companies mine the bauxite deposits found in the hilltops of Atewa Forest – these are spread over a wide area, and would require the forest to be removed. The resulting barren landscape would be impossible to restore to its former condition. Not only would a critical water supply by affected but potentially 100’s of species will be at risk of extinction.
A Rocha Ghana, together with other NGOs and individuals, has served a notice of civil action against the Government of Ghana over its plans to exploit the Atewa Range Forest for bauxite.
It is great to see that some celebrities are also joining the cause:
We became aware of the cause through our friends over at Children of the Light Ghana who put together this video detailing the importance of Atewa Forest:
You can head to A Rocha Ghana to find out more about how you can get involved. You can also head to change.org to sign the petition to the Government of Ghana to declare Atewa Forest as a National Park to provide the protection it needs.
Please help spread awareness and share the petition to your friends and family.
Sources for article:
https://ghana.arocha.org/projects/protecting-atewa-forest/ https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Leonardo-DiCaprio-fights-Akufo-Addo-over-mining-bauxite-in-the-Atewa-forest-798785 https://ghana.arocha.org/news/children-of-the-light-beacon-of-hope-for-atewa/ https://www.globalwildlife.org/blog/atewa-forest-ghanas-life-source/ https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2020/07/04/csos-individuals-sue-ghana-government-over-atewa-forest/ https://www.iucn.nl/en/updates/endangered-primate-discovered-in-bauxite-threatened-atewa-forest-ghana https://savethefrogs.com/ghana-accra-protest-save-atewa-forest/
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