Criminalise mining activities within forest reserves – CSOs petition Akufo-Addo

A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, urging him to annul the recently enacted “Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulations, 2022 (L.I.2462).”

The 22 coalitions argue that the regulation infringes upon constitutional provisions, jeopardising Ghana’s commitment to forest protection and climate change mitigation.

The group’s petition, dated November 20, 2023, was signed by Mustapha Seidu.

According to the petition, the controversial regulation, passed on June 23, 2022, grants statutory procedures for mining activities within forest reserves.

”The CSOs contend that such activities pose a severe threat to the environment, contradicting the 1992 Constitution’s mandate to protect and safeguard the national environment,” the statement said.

The CSOs highlight constitutional concerns, emphasising the duty imposed on the government to protect the environment for present and future generations.

The regulation, by facilitating mining in forest reserves, directly undermines the purpose of these reserves, initially established to ensure the protection of forestry and wildlife, the petition said.

The CSOs express constitutional concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in regulating mining in forest reserves.

They argue that the EPA’s involvement encroaches upon the mandates of the Minerals Commission and Forestry Commission, violating the constitutional directives regarding the management of natural resources.

The CSOs contended that L.I.2462 lacks a proper legislative foundation, raising questions about its constitutionality.

They argue that the Environmental Protection Act, 1994 (Act 490), under which the regulation was enacted, does not grant the Minister the necessary authority to regulate the specific activities outlined in the regulation.

The petition underscores the inconsistency of L.I.2462 with various national policies and commitments, including the Forest and Wildlife Policy, Land Policy, National Climate Change Policy, and Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.

The CSOs raise alarm over the rapid issuance of mining leases within forest reserves since the enactment of L.I.2462, jeopardising the sustainability of the forestry sector.

They argue that this poses a significant threat to the contributions of indigenous investors and the economy.

In their concluding remarks, the CSOs emphasise that L.I.2462 is a fundamentally flawed law with the potential to reverse hard-won gains in forest management and climate change mitigation.

They call upon the president to heed their petition and annul the regulation for the greater environmental good.