The Forestry Commission is to develop the Shai Hills Resource Reserve in the Dangme West District in the Greater Accra Region into an eco-tourism reserve.
The commission is currently seeking a partner to develop the 51-kilometre reserve through the rehabilitation of its 33 kilometre perimeter fence, the provision of dug-outs, and the expansion of three luxury-tent-camp- accommodation facility.
It will also involve the reintroduction of different species of wildlife and the development of innovative ecotourism products to provide rare and desired experience for the increasing number of visitors to the reserve.
At a ceremony to hand over the three luxury-tent- camp- accommodation facility constructed by the Leadership for Conservation in Africa(LCA), the Chief Executive of the commission, Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, said the Shai Hills had the potential to be much better than the Mole Park when developed.
Completed last year, the camp is meant to open up the reserve to more tourists and increase revenue generated to promote its conservation activities.
Mr Dartey bemoaned the over concentration of the country on timber for export over the years, which he stated, was fast depleting the forests.
He further warned of dire consequences, especially access to water, if the Atiwa Range, which was the source of three rivers, including the Densu, was not saved from increasing spate of depletion.
The LCA is an African- based initiative initiated in August 2006 by the South African National Parks (SANParks), Gold Fields Limited and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to restore and develop land under conservation to the benefit of the environment, local communities and the host government in the mitigation of climate change. The LCA council also looks at funding options for conservation projects in Africa.
Its target is to project and develop 20 million hectares of conservation of land in Africa by 2020.
While mining companies are widely perceived to be environmentally destructive, Mr Chris Murai, the Chief Executive of LCA, said Goldfields had a footprint of being responsible and a believer in community engagement to promote sustainable conservation.
According to him, feasibility done at the reserve showed it had a huge potential not just for tourism but also as a top heritage site.
According to the LCA, although the reserve enjoyed a Category IV – IUCN Protected Area classification, it is in the direct path of urban encroachment and at high risk of being a victim of ‘development-at-all-cost’ facing most developing countries today. The reserve is 51km2 in size and plays host to a number of culturally significant sites and a variety of fauna and flora. It is also plagued by lack of funding, lack of infrastructure, lack of skills, animal poaching and a range of typical developing country problems.
Mr Alfred Baku, the Senior Vice-President and Head of the West Africa Region of Goldfields, urged the Forestry Commission to ensure a good maintenance of the tent.
Meanwhile, Goldfields Ghana Limited has given indication of resurfacing the deplorable Tarkwa-Damang road.
The construction work on the 30-Kilometre road is expected to begin by the second half this year at a cost of $ 15 million.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Nick Holland, said the decision to construct the road was an affirmation of the company’s commitment to the country and the communities in which it operated.
“We have not even quantified the benefits. This would be realised over time but it would improve safety on the road. We hope to create a much safer environment”.
Source: Graphic Online