COMMUNITY-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION FOR THE RESTORATION OF BIODIVERSITY AND ECOTOURISM PROMOTION IN BOWIRI AMANFROM
The proposed project is the stretch of land bordering Lackham and Wudomiabra in the Bowiri Amanfrom traditional area in the Jasikan District of the Volta Region. Bowiri Traditional area lies within the Tropical Rainforest zones of Ghana. Typical of any other forest, there abound economic tree species such as Odum, Mahogany and Sapele. There are other lesser-known timber species such as Likuku, Lewole and Osese. Other tree species such as Onyamedua, Atan, Kupoli, Otanduro, known for their medicinal purposes are found in the forest.
Non-Timber Forest Products such as Kafamakpa, Kufluvu, Mushrooms and chewing sticks were very common. Some of these species, especially Kafamakpa and Kufluvu have good medicinal values as well as serves as food for wild animals. Some animal species found in the forest include Dabo, Duiker (Antelope) bush pig, porcupine, bush cat, tortoise snails and pangolin among others.
Furthermore, three principal rivers namely Onar, Konsu and Kati traverse the area. Konsu takes its source from Togo and enters the Volta Lake at Kwamekrom. Onar and Kati take their sources from Akpafu and Odomi River Forest respectively. Hippopotamus, Electric fish and Mudfish among others are found in the rivers. Culturally, the forest is housing a fetish (deity), Kutueku. Kutueku is believed to have led the people of Bowiri from Mbowire in the Western Region to their present place of abode. The shrine of Kutueku has its footprint on a rock. The fetish is a unifying force among the people of Bowiri and customary rites are still performed in the fetish groove. The area, which is predominantly Bowiris of the Guan ethnic group, are mainly farmers. Besides, most men are deeply involved in palm wine tapping and others with majority of women grossly engaged in commercial fuelwood and charcoal businesses to make a living and or supplement their meager incomes from peasant farming. Lumbering by chainsaw operators have now taken the centre stage.
Statement of Problem:
The land of Bowiris used to be a highly forested with rich biological diversity. The destruction of the environment came to a head after the long drought and bushfires of 1983. Many people lost their sources of livelihood and took solace in the exploitation of the environmental resources. This, together with the following activities has resulted in biophysical environmental consequences. These are:
• frequent annual bushfires
• illegal lumbering
• indiscriminate felling of trees for fuel and other domestic uses
• inappropriate farming practices
• group and commercial hunting and also
• population growth
The effects of this environmental decline have manifested in loss of biodiversity as a result of:
• drying up of streams
• depletion of forest cover
• extinction of animal species
• increasing inability of the area to meet the demands of both wood and animal products
• loss of soil fertility and
• worsening poverty levels
The extent of deforestation and degradation of soil is a threat to the ecotourist sites of the area including the fetish groove. The cultural bond that exists among the people of Bowiri is at stake if steps are not taken to halt the rate of devastation of our natural environment
DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT ACTIVITIES
Output 1: Community Resource Management Area (CRMA) established
Activity 1.1 Land demarcation and Tree Planting
Consultations have been concluded with the traditional authorities and the District Assembly, as well as relevant stakeholders so that a Community Resource Management Area (CRMA) to be established at Bowiri.
With the release of eight hundred (800) acres of land by the Traditional Authorities (TAs) for the proposed project Radio Forum with the communities will demarcate the boundaries of the proposed project. Trees will be planted on the degraded areas of the project area.
Activity 1.2 Capacity development for resource management
Under this activity, there will be:
• education and awareness creation
• formation and training of local groups on resource management
• fire management techniques and
• revision and enforcement of local bye-laws on resource management
On education, the activity will be intensive, ongoing and sustained throughout the project duration in the catchments area. It will be on the negative effects of people’s activities on the environment as well as the benefits to be derived from a well-forested environment. This will involve radio discussions, community rallies, education in schools, churches and also for traditional authorities, opinion leaders, landowners, youth leaders, unit committees and assembly members. Community discussion groups will be formed in each of the fifteen communities.
This will be carried out by key collaborators from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Forestry Division (FD), Wildlife Division (WD), Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and Ghana Education Service (GES) with Radio Forum playing a facilitating role.
The traditional authorities and district assemblies shall be encouraged to pass bye-laws to support the whole scheme.
Radio Forum will also form fire volunteer squads, which will act as fire-watchdog committees in the communities along the project site. These squads will be trained by the Ghana National Fire Service in fire management techniques involving fire prevention, fire fighting and management – early burning, spot burning, fire belting and green belting.
Output 2 Reforestation and restoration of biodiversity within CRMA
Activity 2.1. Raising of nurseries
To bring about biodiversity in a natural setting at the CRMA, nurseries with different local tree species such as Odum Mahogany, Osese Atan Otandro will be raised in the fifteen communities.
Activity 2.2. Tree Planting
Seedlings will be planted on the degraded areas. It will involve pegging, digging holes and filling in black soil for proper coverage and good growth of the trees. Special emphasis will be given to planting of Kafamakpa. The fruit serves as food for antelopes (duiker), but in high demand because of its medicinal value. Some women will be trained to manage the nurseries until planting time. The communities will then be mobilized through communal labour to assist in the planting of degraded areas as well as enriching the natural scenery.
Activity 2.3. Education on Wildlife Management.
The communities will also be educated in wildlife management. This will be carried out by the Wildlife Division and will cover the following aspects: Importance of wildlife to mankind, threat to wildlife, wildlife laws in Ghana, etc.
The watchdog committee will be charged to monitor the activities of wildlife exploiters and bring offenders to book.
Output 3. Protection of River Courses.
Activity 3.1. Buffer zone creation
In collaboration with MOFA, traditional authorities, landowners and farmers in the communities along the project site will be requested to provide a buffer along the water courses of Onar, Konsu, and Kati. Degraded areas will be enriched with local tree species.
Activity 3.2. Introduce Ecological Farming Methods
Farmers will be trained in appropriate farming methods. This will include agro-forestry techniques and soil fertility improvement methods using organic matter.
Output 4. Identification and Protection of Ecotourism Potential Sites.
Activity 4.1. Protect Fetish Groove
Ecotourism promises a sustainable alternative to the destruction of the environment. Apart from that it promises income to rural dwellers. Radio Forum, aware of the benefits and in consultation with the community has identified the Shrine as a great potential for ecotourism.
Activity 4.2. Promotion of Kutueku Festival through Education and Consultation.
The culture of the people including their festivals and other ceremonies can also be used to promote tourism. Although the potential is available, its development is very key. Conservation of the area is the first priority in that direction. Also getting the relevant stakeholders such as the District Assembly, Ghana Tourist Board and other Tour Companies to market the potential is also very important.
As a stakeholder the District Assembly will be persuaded to improve the road network to the site, which is presently in a deplorable state. The Telecommunication Companies will also be equally persuaded to extend their services such as fixed line services and cellular services.
Output 5. Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources for livelihood improvement.
Activity 5.1. Training in energy conservation practices
Household women as well as women groups in the fifteen communities will be trained in energy conservation practices. This will involve modeling and use of improved stoves.
Activity 2. Alternative livelihood activities to support resource management
To cause a shift from over-dependence on the environment, women and youth groups will be assisted with alternative livelihood schemes. The women will be trained and supported in mushroom farming, soap making from local materials, oil extraction and batik and tie and dye trades.
The men will also be trained in snail farming, beekeeping, grasscutter farming and small ruminants farming. They will be provided with equipment, kits, accessories and breeds