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US Embassy Committed To Help Ghana Protect Its Environment   
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The US Ambassador, Mr Robert Jackson has expressed his country’s continues support to help Ghana stop illegal mining also known as galamsey, and to preserve its natural resources.

He said the Embassy also supported the call to declare the Atiwa Forest reserve located at Segyemase near Akyem-Abuakwa in the Eastern Region as a national park.

“It is incumbent on stakeholders to let the community see the value of preserving the environment. We need to have a sustainable programme that will conserve and preserve the environment for future generations,” Mr Jackson said when he toured the Atiwa Forest on Thursday.

He also used the opportunity to call on the King of Abuakwa, Osagyefo Nana Amoatia Ofori-Panin II and his elders at his Palace in Abuakwa to interact and declare his support towards efforts at conserving the Atiwa forest as a critical source of water to most part of Greater Accra Region.

Mr Jackson, together with Ms Caecilia Wijgers, Deputy High Commissioner of The Netherlands, a key partner and financier of the “Save the Atiwa Forest project” which was being championed by AROCHA Ghana in collaboration with the Okyeman Environment Foundation and Ghana Wildlife Society visited part of the Atiwa Forest to inspect it current state and know how it could help protect it.   

The Atiwa forest is the home of three major rivers- Birim, Ayensu and Densu, which provides water to 60 per cent of the population of Accra as well as those in the Central and Eastern regions.  

The forest is said to be one of the two upland forest reserves in the country apart from the Tano Offin forest reserve located in Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region.

Atiwa forest is also known as a global significant forest area but it has been facing challenges like illegal chainsaw operation, illegal mining and farm encroachment that continues to affect the landscape.

Mr Jackson said Ghana as the challenges were being highlighted, there was the need to develop long term plans for both short and medium term solutions to help sustain future generations.

He said Government efforts at fighting galamsey and improving water quality was also commendable and that the Embassy would work closely to preserve the environment.

Ms Wijgers commended the media for the key role in fighting galamsey, saying the efforts have been long in coming but duly welcoming to ensure that the land and water bodies are protected.

Mr Appiah Kubi, National Director of AROCHA Ghana, reiterated the call on government to make a bold declaration on the status of the Atiwa Forest and to declare it as a national park so it could be maintain as such.

Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, said the advantages of conserving the Atiwa forest far outweighed the benefit of mining bauxite in the reserve and so government was committed to turning the forest into a national park.

He commended the US Embassy and The Netherlands for supporting Ghana to preserve her environment to ensure that the future generations could survive.

He emphasised on the need for community sensitisation and capacity building of various stakeholders on the importance of the forest and on the right penalties for those who breach the laws.

On his part, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panin II, pledged his full support to the stopping galamsey and towards preserving the environment.

“We need a collective determination to ensure that we protect what we have and not to expose our citizens and children to a very serious environmental degradation”, he said.
Source: GNA

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