The Council of Ghanaian Chiefs, members of the Okyeman Foundation and the Ghanaian community in the Netherlands have called for the construction of a befitting national park in honour of Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, one of the Kings of the Akyem, who passed in 1943.
In a petition to President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Chiefs urged him to invoke an executive order to secure and upgrade the Atewa Range Forest into a National Park, a living legacy which can be named after the revered late King.
Nana Sir Ofori Atta's 75th Anniversary is scheduled for celebration this August.
"The Atewa forest was established in 1929 during the leadership of the late Nana Sir Ofori Atta I and can be a legacy for his memory and recognition of his generational leadership for Ghanaians," the petition stated.
The petition, which is signed by 14 Chiefs led by Barima Asamoah Kofi IV, Chairman of the Council, and Dr. Stephen Kwasi Odurom, Abakomahene of the Akyem Kotoku Abohyendwa Kofi Stool and Divisional Chief of Abirem Traditional Area, noted that the Atewa Range Forest which is also known as Kwaebibirem is an area of high hydrological importance and also of significant value for the global campaign for biodiversity, harbouring rare and threatened species found in few other places in the world.
“The Atewa Forest is the source of water for up to five million Ghanaians, with some in Accra, Eastern and Central Regions of Ghana and so Bauxite mining in the Forest would greatly endanger the water provisioning services and a large number of species in the forest that are already globally threatened with extinction,” the petition noted further.
The call by the Ghanaian community in Amsterdam follows plans by the government to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest located in the Eastern Region.
Prior to the call to the President, the Atewa Ambassadors, who are musicians campaigning against the mining in the forest, held a concert in Amsterdam to support for the campaign against mining in the Atewa forest.
The Atewa Ambassadors are led by the President of the Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Bice Osei Kuffuor.
The Chiefs said in the petition that they agree with environmental protection groups resisting the plan to mine in the forest, and urged the government to protect the forest and promote a green economy.
The petitioners mentioned that a recent analysis by environmental experts in collaboration with Ghanaian institutions such as the Forestry Commission, Water Resources and A Rocha Ghana and the Netherlands Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, indicated that establishing a National Park at Atewa with a well-managed buffer zone will bring a higher returns on investment in economic value to the Ghanaian economy than the planned bauxite extraction.
The petitioners want the government to continue mining at Awaso for bauxite and leave the Atewa Range Forest.
The chiefs in the petition told President Akufo-Addo that there was a major opportunity in pursuing green development for Ghana to effectively demonstrate its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals I, II, VI, XI, XII, XIII, XV, and XVII of the United Nations.
“We strongly believe that making Atewa Range Forest a protected area, will be a major milestone and contribute significantly to progress on a key SDG indicator”.
“We agreed with several other petitions and recommendations to you to remove all references to Kyebi and the Atewa Range Forest as a target for bauxite exploration and mining. [We urge you to] declare the entire Forest Range as a new National Park for Ghana, to be a legacy not only for late Majesty Nana Sir Ofori Atta I but also to your self in keeping with your promise to secure a better environment for posterity. "