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Ghanaian artists release song to raise awareness for protection of Atewa forest

1 June 2017

Today a group of leading Ghanaian musicians jointly releases the brand new song: Atewa ‘till Eternity. The song was composed by a group of international artists travelling to the Atewa forest reserve, which is under threat by illegal logging, illegal goldmining, hunting and farm encroachment. What’s more: the new Ghanaian government recently announced its intention to allow bauxite mining at the expense of the forest. With this musical production, some of Ghana’s most popular artists committed to raising awareness for the preservation of this unique piece of nature.

The Atewa forest range north of Ghana’s capital Accra is not only an internationally recognized unique piece of nature, it also provides water to more than five million people in Ghana.  “However, the forest is steadily degrading due to illegal logging, hunting and the encroachment of farms. Over the past decennia, the pressure on the forest has increased due to illegal goldmining around the forest reserve. The forest and the reliable provisioning of clean water are highly pressurized by these developments,” says Jan Kamstra, Senior Expert Nature Conservation at IUCN NL. “On top of it all, the recently appointed government expressed the intention to sacrifice the forest for bauxite mining. Allowing bauxite mining would have far-reaching consequences for the millions of people that depend on the crucial ecosystem services the forest provides.”

Musicians give nature a voice

Together with partner organization A Rocha Ghana, IUCN NL has been bringing forward scientific and economic arguments for the conservation of the Atewa forest since 2014. “Thanks to the collaboration with Green Beat Performers, we now enter the cultural scene to promote the protection of Atewa,” says Heleen van den Hombergh, who -besides her work for IUCN NL- is jazz artist and initiator of Green Beat Performers, which promotes collaboration between musicians and nature conservationists. “The famous Ghanaian hiplife artist Obour, an energetic performer and president of Ghana's music association MUSIGA, has a heart for nature. He has been a great ambassador to engage other well-known artists such MzVee, Nero X, Sherifa Gunu, Eugene Marfo and Kojo Rana.” 

In March, the group of artists visited the Atewa forest range. “The wonderful nature inspired us. IUCN NL partner organization A Rocha Ghana informed us about everything we encountered,” explains Van den Hombergh, who took part in the production. “Apart from a large diversity of butterflies, birds and frogs, we were also confronted with logging, goldmining and other developments in the forest area.”

Guided by hit-producer Richie Mensah (Lynx Entertainment), the group created the song and video clip Atewa ‘till Eternity based on their experiences in the forest range. “With this musical production, we hope to bring the importance of Atewa forest to the attention of a broad audience,” Kamstra explains. “We aim to increase the protection status of the forest into a National Park.”  

The process of songwriting itself has already generated much media attention in Ghana: shocked by the developments in the area, the broadcasting team and journalists that joined the artists on their trip into Atewa forest started a campaign against illegal mining, in which the musicians were also invited to voice their concerns.

Atewa ‘till Eternity is a musical project of IUCN NL in collaboration with Green Beat Performers, environmental organization A Rocha Ghana and the Ghanaian artist collective Family Tree Entertainment.

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