Stakeholder organisations in the environment and forestry space have called for the immediate repeal of the Legislative Instrument (L.I) on mining in forest reserves, known as the Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulation 2022 (L.I 2462).
According to the non-state actors—Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), A Rocha Ghana, Wacam and OXFAM—this new regulation was retrogressive and laden with what they described as “sinful provisions.”
These “sinful provisions,” they stressed, made all forests in the country potential targets for mining and consequently their destruction.
At a stakeholder engagement in Accra on Thursday, November 9, 2023, the Director of NDF, Mustapha Seidu, said following the passage of the L.! 2462, eight (8) more mining leases have been granted for mining in forest reserves, adding that 14 more applications for leases in forest reserves were being considered by the Minerals Commission (MC).
Out of the 14 pending applications for mining leases in forest reserves, he pointed out that 3 were globally significant biodiversity areas (GSBAs) including the Kakum National Park in Cape Coast, Central Region.
“The mining licenses 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 meeting aimed at discussing the new regulation on mining in forest reserves and the way forward.
It was organised by NDF, an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO), in partnership with A Rocha, Wacam and OXFAM.
The meeting brought together representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs), NGOs, frontline communities, development partners, regulatory bodies, research institutions, academia among others.
A legal practitioner who is also a Senior Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Clement Akapame, said the current L.I was fraught with inconsistencies.
He added that L.I 2462 was also faced with other challenges including weak sanctions regime, illegitimate sources of authority, deviation from gender inclusion and a lack of wholesome stakeholder engagement.
According to him, the passage of the L.I was by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), a situation which clearly sees these two arrogating the role of the Forestry and Minerals Commissions.
He stated that clearly the regulation contradicted the constitutional framework for managing the country’s natural resources.
In the view of Mr Akapame, L.I 2462 lacked legislative basis because section 62 of the EPA Act, 1994 (Act 490) did not grant the minister of MESTI the authority to regulate activities stated in the L.I.
“We cannot rely on section 62 as a basis to enact laws because that basis is not there, and added that the L.I in substance permits mining in forest reserves,” he stressed.
He noted that another area of concern with respect to L.I 2462 was that there was no clarity on the funds and disbursement provision.
On the way forward, Mr Akapame recommended two options that could help cure the ills in the L.I 2462.
For the first option, he urged the stakeholders to resort to the courts albeit the estimated timeline would be between 18-36 months.
“On the second option, we must take advantage of the political climate to lobby for a repeal. It also means approaching an MP to sponsor a bill to sanitise the L.I,” he proposed.
For her part, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, charged Ghanaians to take keen interest in the country’s mineral resources and speak out where necessary.