Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia Monday opened the Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining and Deforestation in Tamale with a call on participants to be candid in their deliberations to build consensus in tackling the menace.
Dr Bawumia said: “Issues relating to the exploitation of our natural resources must be insulated from partisan politics.”
“Therefore, the deliberations at this regional consultative dialogue must be candid so that we are able to build a broad-based national consensus to stem the menace of illegal mining and deforestation.”
The dialogue was organised by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources which saw representatives of research and academia, non-governmental and community-based organisations, religious bodies, traditional authorities, and development partners among others attending.
It was to deliberate on ways to clear the negative footprints on the environment by illegal small-scale miners and deforestation, and to agree on the way forward to ensure responsible, viable and sustainable exploitation of the natural resources.
The Dialogue was held pursuant to the dictates of the communique adopted at the National Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining in Accra in April this year.
The Accra and Kumasi dialogues solely focused on small-scale mining. However, government decided to include deforestation in the consultation in northern Ghana due to the precarious nature of the forest cover of the savannah ecological zone.
Dr Bawumia reiterated the focus of the Tamale consultations, saying: “It is to enable us to have a national consensus on sustainable methods of using minerals and forest resources.”
He gave the assurance that government would promote good governance in the exploitation of the country’s minerals and forest resources to promote sustainability and safeguard the environment.
Mr Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources highlighted the government’s policy on small-scale mining and said: “It is to build a responsible, viable and sustainable small scale mining industry, which will not compromise the environment.”
In line with this, government had put in several interventions to tackle illegal small-scale mining and its consequences on the environment, he said.
Mr Jinapor said those interventions would affect the jobs of people in the sector so “government is in the process of formulating a comprehensive alternative employment and livelihood scheme for illegal miners affected by the ongoing efforts to clean up the sector.”
He warned that henceforth confiscated rosewood would be auctioned for domestic use to save the forests.
“No one will be permitted to export those woods whether acquired legally or otherwise,” he said.
He touched on the importance of shea trees announcing that government, through the Forestry Commission, had secured funding to implement a project in the shea sector to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and promote the cultivation of shea in the country.
Ya-Na Abukari (II), the Overlord of Dagbon, who was represented at the event, commended the Government for the emergency measures to tackle illegal mining and deforestation in the country.
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