Towards zero-deforestation commodities in Ghana’s Atiwa forest

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Located just a couple of hours drive from Ghana’s bustling capital city Accra, the Atewa forest range is a unique ecosystem. It is home to endangered and endemic species of birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and amphibians. It is also the source of three of the country’s main rivers: the Ayensu, Densu and Birim, which supply drinking water to the greater Accra region and beyond. But rising demand for commodities and natural resources, driven by Ghana’s growing middle class and global consumerism, threaten this once secluded forest. New roads and infrastructure, combined with its strategic location between the country’s two largest cities, make Atiwa an attractive spot for business. Atiwa’s western fringes, for example, are marked by a thriving agriculture sector comprised of oil palm, cocoa, oranges, rubber, cassava and banana production. Large plantations run by international and Ghanaian companies coexist with smallholders that either participate in outgrower schemes or farm independently. Because of its abundance of mineral resources, the area is also a breeding ground for “galamseyers,” as artisanal gold miners are locally known.

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