Three global manufacturing companies – the BMW Group, Tetra Pak, and Schüco International – have raised concerns about the use of bauxite from Ghana’s Atewa Forest for aluminum, saying they would not accept these supply chains because of the catastrophic and irreversible effects it has had on people and people Animals that depend on the forest. The Atewa Forest is an important biodiversity area with thousands of species and a source of clean drinking water for more than 5 million Ghanaians.
“Saving the Atewa Forest from mining should be an intergenerational priority. We are happy and grateful that large companies in the aluminum value chain understand the importance of a healthy forest and the associated environmental services, ”said Oteng Adjei, President of Affected Citizens of the Atewa Landscape (CCAL), the grassroots movement that opposes the Bauxite mining in the Atewa forest begins, and letters from all three companies are received. “We appreciate your commitment to supporting local and international efforts to secure the Atewa Forest against bauxite mining, which is sure to destroy the forest, its water supply and biodiversity.”
Rufous-sided Broadbill, Ghana, Copyright Dubi Shapiro, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The BMW Group, Tetra Pak and Schüco International are all members of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI), which was founded to certify the manufacture and supply of aluminum including bauxite extraction. In the letters of the companies it is stated:
Schüco: “Schüco would require our aluminum suppliers not to supply any aluminum made from bauxite that was mined in the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, and we intend to encourage other aluminum users to join this commitment.”
Tetra pack: “Sourcing aluminum from bauxite mined in the Atewa Range Forest Reserve carries a risk that is completely unacceptable to Tetra Pak. Regardless of how high the environmental standards applied, any form of mining in this location will inevitably have destructive effects on the values inherent in such natural habitats. “
BMW Group: “Bauxite from the Atewa Forest region must comply with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UNFCCC Paris Convention on Climate Change and Ghana’s voluntary national contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. If this is not the case, the BMW Group will not accept any aluminum in its supply chains that comes from bauxite from the Atewa forest. “
Atewa forest protection activists have repeatedly insisted that the purchase of bauxite from the Atewa forest does not meet ASI standards and that bauxite mining in Atewa is a threat to species of global extinction and the Convention on Biological Diversity and Goals for sustainable development undermines both of which have set clear goals to stop the extinction.
While the companies recognize the government’s desire to develop the aluminum sector for economic development and poverty alleviation, their letters make clear their commitment to sustainability. All three companies want their suppliers and sub-suppliers to meet the same social and environmental standards.
If Atewa’s bauxite becomes part of Ghana’s aluminum supply, the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC) risks that building owners and aluminum from Ghana will be completely rejected by aluminum users like these.
“It is a crucial step for which we must all take responsibility to ensure that our consumption benefits nature rather than destroying and depleting it. We welcome these companies for setting the standard for saving the Atewa Forest, ”says Patricia Zurita, Managing Director of BirdLife International.
At the end of 2016, the Ghanaian government initiated plans to extract bauxite, which was found under the Atewa forest as part of a financial agreement with China. The extraction of bauxite in Atewa would require “strip mining”, in which the entire surface layer of the soil is removed. This means a total loss of the forest in the degraded areas and the biodiversity contained therein. In 2019, bulldozers began cutting trees and creating access roads in the Atewa forest, even after a number of international groups led by A Rocha and local groups now led by CCAL urged the government for years to end the Atewa forest. To protect forests in the long term by transforming them into a national park.
In contrast to Ghana’s existing bauxite mine in Awaso, which the locals call the “desert of red mud”, the Atewa Forest is full of life, home to at least 50 species of mammals, more than 1,000 species of plants, at least 230 species of birds and more than 570 butterflies – including species not found anywhere else in the world. Atewa is a key area for biodiversity, a place of global importance for the persistence of biodiversity and the general health of the planet. In a recently published book, the renowned biologist and author Professor EO Wilson lists the Atewa Forest as one of the 38 most important places on earth that should be reserved for the benefit of nature.
“Atewa’s incredible biodiversity and associated ecosystem services are priceless, and the local communities have worked very loudly to protect this place from destruction,” said Daryl Bosu of A Rocha Ghana. “By trying to make short-term cash profits from the forest, the government is actually driving companies away from doing business with Ghana. It is time to invest in Atewa’s long-term protection, not just for the benefit of Ghanaians, but for the benefit of all life on earth that depends on our forests, to help fight the climate crisis and prevent pandemics. “
In 2016, A Rocha et al. Published a report that showed that protecting the Atewa Forest as a national park and buffer area around it – rather than mining it for bauxite – actually had the highest economic value for the country over 25 years with enormous benefits to churches both upstream and downstream.
The International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) passed a resolution in November 2020 calling for global measures to save Atewa from bauxite mining. She joins the international call to protect this irreplaceable forest. In addition to providing clean water to the surrounding communities, the Atewa Forest is also home to unique endangered species such as the White-necked Mangabey Monkey, Togo Slippery Frog, and Afia Birago Puddle Frog, which were only discovered in 2017.
“Large multinational companies that listen to the voices of the communities and publicly use their economic weight in the campaign to protect the Atewa Forest are a very welcome step as combating the loss of nature is everyone’s business,” said Alice Ruhweza, director of the WWF Africa region. “Hopefully, more companies will quickly follow suit to protect Atewa and send a clear message that parts of our natural world are too priceless to be destroyed for short-term gain.”