Humans are not responsible for Atewa’s forest destruction—Witness

  Tue, 14 Feb 2023
Crime & Punishment Humans are not responsible for Atewa’s forest destruction—Witness

Mr Emmanuel Tabi, the Second Plaintiff Witness, has disagreed with an assertion that communities and its human activities are responsible for destroying 35 per cent of the Atewa Forest cover.

The witness, who is a farmer, said the level of destruction in the forest caused by the heavy bauxite mining makes the impact of human activities negligible.

Arocha Ghana and 10 other plaintiffs are challenging the Government’s move to mine bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest, contending that the Government is undertaking mining activities in the Forest without mineral rights.

The Plaintiffs are urging the Court to compel the Government to restore or pay the cost of damages so far caused by of recognisance, prospecting and clearing of roads in the Forest.

The witness, who is a resident of Sagyimase in the Eastern Region, said, he owned Cocoa and Plantain farms and employed temporary workers, when the needed but he had engaged an assistant.

In a cross-examination led by Madam Ashia Prempeh Atta, a State Attorney, the witness was asked how big his farms were and its location, and said they were at Sagyimase and had over 12 acres of Cocoa farm.

Asked, whether the witness had ever entered the Atewa Forest, he answered in the affirmative but said he did not know the exact distance from the edge of the Forest to the Plateau in the Forest.

The State Attorney put it to the witness that for the past five years, Ghana's weather conditions had changed no matter its forest cover, the witness agreed but said the weather in the Atewa Landscape had not seen any sharp change within that period.

“Do you know the size of the Atewa Forest.” Madam Atta asked, but the witness answered in the negative, but he said he knew the part of the Forest to be mined.

The Attorney suggested to the witness that the Atewa had an area size of about 23,663 hectares of land, the witness agreed.

Mr Tabi disagreed with the prosecution that, where the mining activities were being held was far away from the water bodies in the forest, saying the explorations were close to one of the river bodies.

He said, “l stated earlier in the statement that the activities of illegal miners had caused water shortage in the area.”

Asked, what Arocha Ghana and its partners had done, the witness said they have engaged 48 communities along the landscape of Atewa and had done a lot to restore water services.

He said they had also engaged both the legal and illegal miners and on many occasions trained them on how to mine responsibly without destroying the water bodies.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the right to life and dignity as enshrined in the Constitution of Ghana, 1992 include (a) the right to a clean and healthy environment and (b) the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

It also sought a declaration that mining of bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest violates the right to life and dignity as enshrined under articles 13 and 15 of the Constitution of Ghana (1992).

An order, compelling the Government and its agents to take the necessary steps to protect Atewa Range Forest in accordance with its constitutional obligations as contained under article 36(9) of the Constitution (1992).

An order, restraining the Government, its assigns and agents, servants, workmen, allotees and guarantees whatsoever and howsoever described from undertaking mining and its related activities in the Atewa Range Forest.

The case has been adjourned to February 14, 2023