Atewa Range Forest Reserve: The lungs of the Eastern Region
The Atewa range forest reserve is located in Ghana’s Eastern region, near the town of Kibi in the Akyem Abuakwa district, and arguably among the most important and largest natural forest reserves in Ghana, playing a significant role in the ecosystem of the country.
The forest reserve runs all the way from Kibi to the South-western part of Kwahu plateau forming the South-West border of the most prominent river body in Ghana, the Lake Volta.
The importance of the forest to the economic development of Ghana especially the people of the Eastern region cannot be oversized. The entire region currently depends on the Atewa range for water supply as the Ghana Water Company depends on the treatment of the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers found in the Atewa range to supply water to residents of the region. These three rivers are also the largest in the region, flowing through most part of Eastern region for remote use by various towns.
Of all the many forest reserves in Ghana, Atewa Range Forest is touted to have the highest number of trees, some of which are very rare and very important in the Agric and science research fields.
Recently the reserve has been in the news for various controversial reasons some of which have resulted in campaigns to save the forest as it keeps depleting at an alarming rate. Authorities of the Ghana forestry commission are currently in a battle with illegal wood loggers who have turned their attention to the reserve and are cutting down the trees to sell on the timber market.
Another major problem facing the reserve is the issue of mining activities taking place in the heart of the forest. While the Atewa forest is a protected area, illegal miners have found their way in, cutting down trees and clearing green vegetation for gold mining purposes and in the process also destroying the water bodies in the forest.
Atewa is also known to contain one of the world’s largest deposit of Bauxite, but previous governments since independence have taken lot of steps to protect the bauxite reserves from being mined until recently when news broke of the current’s government’s intent to mine the bauxite as part of a financial agreement signed with the government of China in exchange for some infrastructural aid.
While the forest is classified as a protected area, it is opened for tours and citizens or tourists can visit the amazingly large forest and engage in some tourist activities like Bird watching and hiking.