Many were those who thought it was an empty threat from the indigenes of Dannso, in the Bosome Freho District of the Ashanti Region, when they warned all illegal miners in the community to seize operations or face their wrath at a press conference last week.
The doubting Thomases for instance had many reasons to suspect the threat, when the District Chief Executive (DCE) or the government representative in the area, Mr Yaw Danso was caught on tape openly declaring his inability to deal with the menace of illegal mining which has become rampant in the locality.
According to the DCE, it is never his responsibility to secure the Bosomtwe Range forest reserve in his area which is under serious attack as a result of illegal mining.
But, the aggrieved indigenes have been unyielding in their quest to get the illegal miners out of the community and they have succeeded in chasing them away.
This was confirmed to ghenvironment.org by the Chairman of the Concern Citizen of Dannso, Opanin Kwabena Kyei, in an exclusive interview.
‘The Bosomtwe Range forest reserve and river Danne define our lives and we owe it a duty of care”, he said.
It all started when residents of Dannso in the Bosome Freho District, demonstrated against illegal mining activities in the forest reserve which is affecting their only source of good drinking water, as well as causing massive deforestation.
The angry demonstrators at a point threatened bloodshed if the illegal activities persisted and went further to accuse the DCE of the area, Mr Danso of providing his support to the illegal miners, hence the wanton destruction of the forest at the full glare of the District Security Committee (DISEC) which he chairs.
But, according to Opanin Kyei , no blood was shed during the exercise to get the illegal miners out of the forest but they managed to chase all of them away.
He disclosed that, what is left now is to reclaim the destroyed land and start planting on them.
“Some of the illegal miners are cooperating with us to reclaim the land for us, and we are ready to reclaim the rest on our own in order protect our only source of good drinking water and the forest.
Opanin Kyei revealed that, with the success achieved so far, the indigenes would continue to resist any form of mining in the locality to preserve their rich natural resources.
"Those entrusted with the responsibility to protect the forest reserve are playing the ostrich but as we have started, we are not going to betray our people in allowing anyone to enter the forest again”, he warned.
Importance of the Bosomtwe Range forest reserve
The Bosomtwe Range forest reserve is very important for the survival of Lake Bosomtwe which is one of the six meteoritic lakes in the world. The southernmost section of the site overlaps the northern section of the Bosomtwe Range Forest Reserve creating a combination of forest, wetland and mountain ecosystems. The biosphere reserve sustains 35 tree species.
The site is also home to a great diversity of wildlife and a human population of over 50,000 inhabitants whose main economic activities are farming, fishing and tourism, as the lake is a major national tourist destination.
According to UNESCO, the area is also widely used for research, especially on climate change, as well as environmental education for schools and universities.
By Awudu Salami Sulemana Yoda