Ghana's forestry agency has warned that illegal mining is causing widespread destruction to the country's gold-rich forests. The mining industry in Ghana involves large global players, but also artisanal mining activities, many of which are illegal. Since taking office in 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has pledged to rid the country of these illegal mines, which are responsible for deadly accidents.
The Ghana Forestry Commission has reported that of the country's 16 regions, seven have been affected by illegal mining activities, while 34 out of 288 forest reserves have been damaged, with an estimated total area of destruction of 4,726 hectares. Illegal mining not only reduces the size of forests but also pollutes rivers and creates deep holes that are difficult to rehabilitate.
Ghana has revised its laws and put measures in place to protect forests, but the problem persists. Insufficient law enforcement, corruption and unemployment fuel deforestation activities. In addition to illegal mining, the main drivers of deforestation in Ghana are the expansion of agricultural areas, illegal logging, forest fires, overgrazing and infrastructure development.