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‘Galamsayers’ plunder forests in the west




By Francis Kyei & Lorenda Anita Laryea

The activities of small-scale miners in the country will soon destroy several thousands of hectares of forest reserves in the western region, if not checked.

The small-scale miners, who claim to have discovered staggering quantities of mineral deposits beneath the country’s biggest green forest located in the region, are currently scavenging the forest for the minerals with sheer disregard for its environmental effect.

Their activities have exposed the forest to many environmental treats, including deforestation, depletion of surface and underground water resource, pollution of rivers and streams and migration of wild life.

These are captured in a recent research conducted by the forestry Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Wassa-Akropong in the Western Region.

Presenting the research findings at an internal seminar organized by the CSIR in Accra yesterday, a research fellow Dr. Dominic Blay said the deforestation had led to the extinction of certain flora and fauna species such as snails, mushrooms, medicinal plants and forest fruits.

Farmlands had also had their fair share of the destructions, caused by the activities of small-scale miners, he said, adding that the activities of such miners could have economic effects on the inhabitants of communities where they operated if not checked.

Dr. Osmund Ansah-Asare, a Principal Research Scientist at the Water Research Institute of CSIR, in another presentation, called on the government to legalise the activities of small-scale miners in order to monitor their operations and ensure sustainability of the environmental resources.

“In this way, we will be able to track their activities and know the damage caused to the environment in a particular area” he said.

He said small-scale miners could also be assisted in the use of technology in refraining gold, adding, ”they can be helped in the use of cyanide in refining their gold with proper precautions and right technology put in places, once they are legalised and organized into groups”.

The Deputy Director-General of CSIR, Dr. Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, said Ghana had been blessed with many water bodies and rich vegetation, and urged the government to make the preservation of resources one of its topmost priorities.

He said if the country continued to destroy its water bodies and forest cover, it would have far reaching consequences on the current and future generation, adding that the destruction of the country’s resources could pose health and food risk in the country.

The Ghanaian Times News Paper (Thursday, March 29, 2012 edition)