A study on the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, shows that the establishment of a national park is estimated to yield $5.8 million a year based on a comparison with other natural areas in the country.
The study revealed that from the analysed ecosystem services provided by the Atewa range, non-timber and timber products provide the largest benefits in economics terms a year, estimated at 19.3 million dollars and 40.6 million dollars.
The study was conducted by the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in May 2015 as part of efforts to enhance the protection status of the Atewa forest under the project: “Living Water from the Mountain: Protecting Atewa Water Resources.”
The study was conducted by a consulting team headed by Professor Pieter Van Beukering.
The study was in collaboration with the IUCN The Netherlands, A Rocha Ghana, an NGO and the Forestry Commission with support from the Dutch Embassy.
The study was to demonstrate the costs and benefits in economic terms of current developments in the Atewa range and support government in deciding the most optimal and sustainable management of the reserve.
It also called for the establishment of a national park, creating a buffer zone around it and extract all the timber and mineral resources including the bauxite that is located in the forest reserve.
The study revealed that industrial sector and domestic households in the Densu, Ayensu and Birim basins of the reserve estimated a benefit of 25 million dollars per year.
It said water for agriculture provides benefits of 3.1 million dollars a year in irrigated lands and floodplains.
One million people from the Greater Accra depend on water from the Atewa reserve and the range is suitable for cocoa farming, providing additional benefits to local communities of more than 9 million dollars a year.
Results of the hydrological analysis of the Densu basin of the reserve indicate that losing the vegetation cover in the Atewa range might slightly increase the annual water availability in the Densu river.
It said deforestation would lead to a higher variability in the water discharge, which increases the probability of drought and flood events and that households and industries downstream would be negatively affected by degradation through increase in pollution and sediment in the water bodies.
Mr Seth Appiah-Kubi, National Director of A Rocha Ghana said the study was to achieve long term sustainable protection of the forest reserve as a public good for securing livelihoods and water management.
He said the study was to improve knowledge base to mainstream the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services of the reserve into decision-making at all levels.
The Atewa range is a strip of upland forest surrounded by a mixture farms, small scale gold mines and villages.
It lies about 90 km North of Accra and functions as the source of the Densu, Birim and Ayensu rivers.
The forest reserve is home to around 656 species of vascular plants, around 63 species of mammals and 227 species of birds.