Review law on mining in forest reserves — Stakeholders
Stakeholder organisations in the forestry and environment space have called for an immediate review of the legislative instrument (L.I) on mining in forest reserves, Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulation 2022 (L.I 2462).
According to the Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), A Rocha Ghana, WACAM and Oxfam, the current regulation was fraught with "sinful provisions" that made all forest reserves candidates for mining.
The non-state actors stressed that their analysis of L. I 2462 had shown that the new regulations on mining in the forest had no legislative foundation and were not consistent with the country's environmental policies.
At a workshop held in Accra last Wednesday (November 9), the Director of NDF, Mustapha Seidu, said since L. I 2462 was passed in November last year, eight more mining leases had been granted in forest reserves, while 14 more applications for leases in forest reserves were under consideration by the Minerals Commission.
He added that three out of the 14 forest reserves with pending mining leases were globally significant biodiversity areas (GSBA), including Kakum National Park.
“The mining licences granted and the applications so far affect 15 forest reserves with a combined concession area of more than 95,000 hectares,” he said.
The stakeholder workshop was meant to discuss the new law on mining in forest reserves dubbed Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulation 2022 (L.I 2462).
It was organised by NDF, an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO), A Rocha Ghana, WACAM and Oxfam.
The workshop was attended by representatives of forest communities, civil society organisations (CSOs), development partners, research institutions and other stakeholders.
Mr Seidu named a number of the companies that had been given leases to mine and stressed that the spate at which mining leases were being granted in forest reserves had dire consequences for the environment and human survival.
A legal practitioner and Senior Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Clement Akapame, said L. I 2462 had lapsed, including illegitimate sources of authority, weak sanction regimes, deviation from gender inclusion custom, and lack of wholesome stakeholder consultation.
Presenting a legal opinion on L. I 2462, Mr Akapame said the passage of the instrument was largely done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), thereby usurping the role of the Forestry and the Minerals commissions.
He stressed that regulating mining in forest reserves by EPA through L. I 2462 contradicted the constitutional framework for managing the country's natural resources.
Mr Akapame added that the current L. I lacked legislative foundation because the EPA Act, 1994 (Act 490) did not grant the Environment minister the necessary authority to regulate the activities contained in L.I 2462.