Offin Forest Reserve Under Siege - Engineers & Planners Caught On Site

The fears of the Daily Statesman and other Civil Society groups that the Forestry Commission would cave in and eventually give approval for the dissipation of the Tano Offin forest reserve, through mining, has come to pass as news trickling indicates that Messrs Exton Cubic Group Limited, a company closely linked to President Mahama, has been given the green light to mine in the forest reserve.

This paper a couple of weeks ago reported that two civil society organizations, Forest Watch Ghana and KASSA Initiative, had expressed worry over possible gold exploration activities which could soon take off soon in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve in the Ashanti region.

According to the groups, front liners of a company which was yet to be confirmed were seriously working their way from the top to secure clearance to enter into the reserve with heavy mining equipment and machines to engage in bauxite mining.

It is now clear who the owners of the company are and interestingly, Engineers and Planners, a company belonging to Ibrahim Mahama, brother to President Mahama, is the company contracted to do the excavation in the forest.

When reporters visited the forest last month, E&P branded machines were seen on cite in readiness to move into the forest reserve.

The Nkawie Forestry Office wrote a letter dated June 1, 2015 to the Atwima Mponua District Assembly stating that, “We write to raise a strong objection towards the issuance of mining lease/ license to Exton Cubic Group Limited to undertake large scale mining in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve, Nkawie Forest District. The Globally Scientific Biodiversity Area (GSBA) based on its management status is under strict protection and conservation for biodiversity and environmental values.”

It therefore comes as a surprise that the permit is said to have been given eventually.

Apart from being a protected reserve, the Tano Offin Forest Reserve is also one of UNESCO’s thirty Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas in the country (GSBAs).

Leadership of the two civil society organizations involved in forestry advocacy in the country argued that GBSAs are completely restricted areas from all forms of human activities, let alone mining.

They have therefore cautioned the government to be mindful of the negative impacts that mining in such a reserve will have on surrounding forest fringe communities in particular and the country as a whole. (Stay tuned for more on this)