Forestry Commission had assured the public that no damage has been done to the Tano Offin forest reserve in Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region despite ongoing prospecting operations by Exton Cubic Group Limited.
Since 2016, the company has been drilling holes in portions of the forest reserve to determine the measure of natural resources in the forest located near Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region.
But Nkawie District Forestry Commission boss, Nana Poku Bosompim, has noted that there has not been any destruction.
“Nobody is mining in the forest. Prospecting doesn’t affect the forest. We are in the Tano Offin forest, you don’t see anything. You can go to the operational area.
…All you see are some drills to determine whether the bauxite is of commercial quantities… Very tiny drills like my hands. Very small. Just like drilling a borehole. They don’t disturb the forest,” Nana Poku told Joy FM.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei Mensah, recently stopped the company from moving machinery to the forests and seized their equipment.
Nana Poku Bosompin stated that the presence of the heavy machinery did not affect the forests in anyway.
“They were coming to open up the roads because they were coming with heavy machinery. You see the roads look so good. It was prepared by the company preparing to do the extraction. So there is nothing so untoward,” he explained.
Mr. Bosompim assured that they will strictly monitor the operations of the company to ensure that they do not undertake any activity that harms the forest, disclosing that they have pulled the breaks on some aspects of their operations before. “Exton Cubic was first clearing bushes to make way for the road, instead of developing stretches that had been created by some of the timber companies.
They were clearing fresh bushes to create brand new routes. So the commission stopped them from clearing some of the fresh forests and insisted that they develop on existing stretches,” he disclosed.
“We will monitor the operations of the company and be sure they are going according to laid down procedures. I can say that so far so good. If we have the course to suspect that something is going wrong, we have the power to stop them. No sweat about that,” Nana Bosompim explained.
Today gathered that there are lots of timber logging operations ongoing in the forest reserve; both legal and illegal. The loggers have also cleared large areas of the forest to make way for roads.
Civil Society Groups, however, continue to register their displeasure against the plan to mine bauxite in the forest reserve.
Operations Director of Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), Mr. Glenn Assomaning, stated that mining in the reserve will cause a lot of communities in the southern part of the country to go thirsty in future.
“The Tano river runs through this forest just as the Offin River. It runs all the way to the southern part of Ghana. If this bauxite operation affects the water body, the people downstream will not have access to this water,” he noted.
“Forests provide the necessary micro climate for cocoa production. There is a reason why cocoa doesn’t grow in the north. It’s because there are no forests there. Once this forest goes, all the cocoa we get around this place will go,” he added.
Mr. Asomaning noted that bauxite mining in particular damages the environment severely.
“Bauxite mining, unlike other mineral resources, takes up clay and carts away. It clears up everything there. There is no way that after bauxite mining, the forest can be restored. You have to clear all the trees first before you mine the bauxite. I don’t think that is good for those who depend on the forest,” he advised.
“I am an environmentalist and I know the value of a forest that is a significant biodiversity area. If you destroy the forest, there is no way you can replace it. Mining in this forest reserve will be a bad precedent,” Mr. Asomaning added.