By: Faustina Yeboah and Matilda Hoffman.
A Rocha Ghana, a non-governmental organization dedicated to conservation and sustainable development, has announced a two-day peaceful picketing event to oppose the new L.I.2462 Environmental Protection Regulations that was discreetly passed in November 2022, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Government of Ghana, to allow mining in forest reserves. A Rocha announces that two petitions will be handed over to government bodies during the peaceful picketing: It begins with the handing of a petition on Thursday 27th July at the Parliament House (from 9 am to 3 pm), and to the Minerals Commission on Friday, July 28, 2023. The peaceful picketing aims to address critical environmental concerns surrounding the recently passed legal instrument, L.I. 2462 that may pose a threat to the environment, wildlife, and natural resources.
With the picketing event A Roacha says they aims to achieve the following crucial objectives:
1. Register Our Protest and Seek Redress: We demand an immediate revocation of L.I. 2462 and will express our dissatisfaction with the clandestine manner in which it was passed.
2. Halt Mining Licenses in Forest Areas and Strengthen Monitoring: We urge the authorities to pause the issuance of mining licenses in forest areas and implement robust monitoring mechanisms to prevent further environmental degradation.
3. Enforce Stronger Measures to Protect Existing Forests: We advocate for the implementation of stringent measures to secure and conserve our existing forests for the well-being of current and future generations.”
Speaking with Stephanie Nkansah, Program Support Officer at A Rocha Ghana, YRE is told that the new L. I 2462 will lead to the loss of forest reserve. “With the new L.I, unfortunately, there are no limitations on the amount of forest they can mine therefore this could lead to the loss of entire forest reserves. There are also no set criteria for reforestation and again this means that the whole forest area could be permanently lost. It will put our water source at risk”, Nkansah explains.
According to her, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) were excluded in the decision-making process. “We demand an immediate revocation of L.I. 2462 because seeing the manner in which it was passed, Civil Society Organizations like ourselves were completely excluded in the decision-making process. We urged the authorities of the Mineral Commission to hold mining licenses in forest areas and strengthen monitoring mechanisms to prevent further environmental degradation. And then we advocate for the implementation of stricter measures to secure and conserve our existing forests, for the well-being of current and future generations,” she said.
Nkansah also revealed that they are prepared to go to court if need be. - “Finally, as the last result, depending on the case-by-case basis, we would resort to the court for interpretation wherever necessary”, she says on behalf of A Rocha Ghana. As such, the NGO follows the trend we currently see in many countries where CSOs, particularly represented by youth, are holding their governments responsible for negative environmental conduct by presenting environment and climate cases to the cort.
As the event approaches, A Rocha Ghana urges all concerned individuals and organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainable development to join hands in this significant endeavor. By standing together, they can send a powerful message to authorities and stakeholders, advocating for the protection of Ghana's invaluable forests, which is a precondition for securing a sustainable and green future for the nation.