Rescue Mission International, a youth-led advocacy NGO, has called on government to actively engage stakeholders including indigenous communities, the youth and environmental NGOs, in the effective management and conservation of the Atewa Forest.

It said the Atewa Forest is the home for many vulnerable and endangered species, which needed to be protected to ensure sustainable livelihoods for both the current and future generations.

The youth-led organizations made the call in a press statement to commemorate the celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB).

The statement was issued and signed by Ibrahim Tuzee Abdul-Raheem, Co-Founder, Rescue Mission International and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday in Tamale.

The United Nations has declared May 22 every year as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), to help increase understanding and awareness on biodiversity issues and the need to protect the environment for humans and all life on earth.

The global theme for 2020 IDB celebration is: “Our Solutions are in Nature”.

The statement said “the theme for this year’s celebration shows that, our natural fauna and flora are and will remain the answer to if not all, but almost all the sustainable development challenges we are all faced with as a people”.

It entreated each and every Ghanaian youth to serve as conservation ambassadors and assist in the campaign to create the vital education and attention on the need to conserve the country’s biodiversity resources.

The statement said “Parliament, in June 2018, approved an agreement with China’s Sinohydro Corporation Limited to build infrastructure projects including roads, hospitals, landfill sites, and industrial parks. Ghana is to pay for these with $2 billion worth of refined bauxite to uphold the deal with China’s Sinohydro Corp Limited”.

“In June 2019, the Government through its agency, the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Authority (GIADEC) identified Atewa Forest as a potential site to mine bauxite and started clearing access roads to the summit of the forest to allow test drilling for bauxite deposits it believes amounts to 150 million to 180 million metric tons”.

According to the statement several NGOs have advocated against any mining activities in the area.

The Atewa Forest Reserve, the statement said, covers an area of about 23,663 hectares in the eastern part of the country and blessed with distinctive upland forest vegetation, which is rich with a number of very rare species some of which are native or confined in only this reserve.

It said the reserve is equally blessed with a wide variety of natural habitats such as streams, swamps, closed forests and natural clearings, which support a rich variety of fauna such as Killfish (Epiplatys chaperi) and Walker’s barb (Barbus walkeri), which have great potentials in the aquarium trade.

The area, the statement said, “provides the headwaters of three river systems – Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers; which together serve as the source of domestic and industrial water for local communities within its catchment areas as well as water for millions in the national capital, Accra”.