Oscar award-winning actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, has added his voice to calls for the protection of the Atewa Forest as Ghana prepares to commence the first phase of the Sinohydro deal.

The deal will see Ghana’s bauxite reserves in the Atewa Forest mined and traded in a ‘barter’ deal for $2 billion from China, meant to be invested in various developmental projects across the country, particularly roads.

DiCaprio, who is a staunch environmentalist believes that mining in the Forest would put the millions of people and hundreds of “wildlife species” who depend on it “at risk of extinction”

“Ghana’s #Atewa Forest Reserve provides drinking water to 5 million+ people & harbors 100+ wildlife species at risk of extinction. We must prioritize the protection of these irreplaceable places for a healthy planet,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.”

Having founded an environmental organization – Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation – which has been in existence since 1998, it is not surprising that the multiple award-winning actor would take a keen interest in the developments with the Atewa Forest, which has been a raging issue since the deal with China was first announced.

This week, Ghana received the first instalment of the $2 billion deal, initially agreed in 2018 for the country’s bauxite deposits to be leveraged in exchange for the funds.

With the commercial mining of the bauxite set to commence next year, there has been rising agitation from within the country and externally as well, especially from environmental and wildlife conservation groups over the fate of the Atewa Forest, where about 165 million tonnes of bauxite is located.