Africa and Sub-Saharan African Environmental IssuesEnvironmental IssuesGhana Environmental Issues and News

Environmental specialists call for strict laws on land reclamation

BY Rhodaline Anane Mensah

With the rise in illegal and small-scale mining activities in various farming communities in Ghana, stakeholders fear food security in the country could be negatively affected if concrete measures are not put in place to reclaim mined-out sites.

The Amansie areas in the Ashanti Region, just like many mining communities in the country, have been faced with a situation where various farmlands have been destroyed due to mining activities.

Interestingly, after the mining activities have been carried out on the said farmlands, the lands are not reclaimed, which adversely affects farming activities in those areas.

Some of the areas where huge farmlands have been destroyed due to mining activities are the Amansie West, Central, and South districts.

At Yawkrom, Asarekrom, and other mining communities within the Amansie West District, for instance, the traditional leaders say they fear residents could fall into the uncovered pits.

“We always fear people could fall in the uncovered pits and die,” the Adontenhene for Yawkrom who doubles as the Assemblymember for the area, Nana Ayensu Barima Kwame Kantinka lamented.

The residents can now heave a sigh of relief as Tropenbos Ghana and other stakeholders have begun restoring mined-out sites which were destroyed by illegal and small-scale miners.

As part of the four-year project by Tropenbos Ghana, which seeks to reclaim mined-out areas, the land at Yawkrom has seen tremendous change as it has been reclaimed from its destroyed nature to a mini forest.

“For Yawkrom, the total land that we have reclaimed is and the planted is 3.88 hectares. We have one at Asarekrom which is 2.4 hectares, at Agyareago. Also, our partner Arocha Ghana is doing the same in Sedumase in the Abuakwa sub municipal area. At Essuowin, the community leaders came to our training of rehabilitation of mined-out lands and from that frame, they learned that they can engage miners to help cover the mined pits and then plant trees. So they did that with a local miner who covered about more than a hector of land, and they approached us. So we gave them seedlings about 800 seedlings to start with, we went there to give them technical guidance,” Kwame Appiah Owusu, the Project Manager for the Norad funded Securing Food and Ecosystem services in mining-plagued regions of Ghana, stated.

Following the commencement of the restoration project and subsequent training by Tropenbos Ghana and other stakeholders at Yawkrom, the Adontenhene for the area, Nana Ayensu Barima Kwame Kantinka says efforts will be put in place to ensure that what Tropenpos has done is replicated by small scale miners to reclaim lands they have destroyed.

“Those engaging in the community mining here are supposed to sign documents indicating that they will cover all pits and properly reclaim the lands. That will help us a lot”.

The Chief Farmer in the area, Elijah Danso is excited about this development as it restores hope to his fellow farmers.

“The illegal miners, over the years after engaging in their operations, have failed to reclaim the lands. People were not even able to access this area. The intervention by Tropenbos Ghana has helped in reclaiming the land here. This has made me believe that indeed all mined-out sites can be reclaimed”.

Kwame Appiah Owusu is however calling on the government to strictly enforce laws to ensure that reclamation bonds are signed by small-scale miners to make sure that food security is not threatened.

“At the district level, we did mostly stakeholder dialogue and then at the national level, the consensus was that small scale miners should have or are supposed to have reclamation bonds just as the large scale miners do so that government can follow on to make sure that all mining sites are reclaimed and brought to production so that we can secure our food production. This is a food production area so if you want security if we want our ecosystem to be preserved and that we can benefit from all ecosystem benefits,  then the government needs to take this reclamation bond for small-scale miners seriously and enforce the laws of reclamation.

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