Eco - Fest Foundation at Atewa Range
Georgette Comfort Addy The Ghanaian Times - Accra June 2001
A lot of times communities detest environmental issues when it comes to prioritizing their developmental activities. This problem is due to lack of environmental education which prevents people from knowing the many pleasurable socio-economic benefits communities can gain from a properly managed environment.
In Ghana, traditional authorities, district and local assemblies owe it a great duty to make the environment an important issue on their development agenda. Kibi in the Easting Region is however a good example of a community which has taken interest in meaningfully preserving its forests.
It was very encouraging when participants saw a great deal of environmental zeal and enthusiasm exhibited by the Okyenhene, Nana Amoatia Ofori Panin (Chief) and his elders during a preparatory tour organized by Eco-Fest foundation to Kibi town. The tour was to prepare the ground for the core participants in the area for the forthcoming International Eco-Tourism Festival (Eco-Fest 2001) to be held in Ghana in October.
The tour groups were from the Forest Commission, Ghana Wildlife Department, Ministry of Tourism, Environmental journalists and other environmental groups. They went through Apapam village to the Atewa Range Forest Reserve in Akyem Abuakwa. The reserve covers about 123,000 hectares of land. The forest which was in jeopardy for the past years due to human activities is being gradually brought back to life.
The Reserve adds to its richness a beautiful scenery with an undulating setting, rolling hills and sloping valleys. The sloppy hill gives tourists a full view down the deep valleys to enjoy nature to the full. Its beautiful geographical landscape is one that tourists can admire and feel good about.
The Atewa Forest Range has no wildlife guide. It is being managed by the Okyeman Environment Foundation. The foundation has restricted people from farming in the area and performing other human activities that can cause environmental degradation. This is a good and encouraging effort and has to be commended.
The trip also confirmed the collaboration of the Ghana Wildlife Department and the Forestry Commission in preserving and conserving the reserve before the D-day comes (i.e. the Eco-Fest).
Mr. Yaw Ofori-Frimpong, of the Wildlife Division Operation said his department would preserve the butterfly species in the forest. This would give the tourists the opportunity to view the butterfly species that abound in the forest at a particular area. The Division would also provide trails to make visitors to the forest enjoy the flora and fauna, which are quite a sight. All the important trees will have identification marks indicating traditional history, origin and medical uses. Other forest reserve facilities would be provided as well.
Tourists attraction to Kibi town will afford the people the opportunity to be involved in the production of their local goods like carvings, beads, baskets and other cane products.
Mr. Eric Nyako of Eco-Fest Foundation who is also Chief Executive of Sagrenti Tours Limited., emphasized that the foundation's efforts are in line with the Forestry Commission's aim of getting people involved in viable ventures so that they would stay away from illegal activities in the forest.
He said the foundation would ensure that the people are trained in mushroom and snail farming, and beekeeping among others. The sale from the wares would benefit them financially.
To this end, it is proper and in everyone's interest to ensure eco-stability through community involvement in preserving the reserve.
Over to you Nana Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panyin 11, Paramount Chief of Akyem Abuakwa State and your subjects. I believe other chiefs so endowed would emulate your shinning example.