Bio-Diversity is essential for the existence and sustenance of life on the planet. The wide range of species, complex biological communities and genetic variations within species constitute bio-diversity. The Forestry Commission has been spearheading the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Bio-Diversity in Ghana through the collaboration of relevant agencies and non-governmental organizations (CBOs) as well as the forest fringe communities.

Globally Significant Bio-diversity Areas (GSBAs) are areas with high genetic concentrations. These areas are protected to maintain the global interest in the conservation of rare species of flora and fauna. In 1990, 29 forest reserves were designated as GSBAs. The purpose of the institution of GSBAs was to shift the focus of conservation of forest reserves from the traditional timber production and / or watershed and hill protection. This was done after the Forestry Commission had carried out extensive inventories the forest reserves in the country.

Five of such GSBAs are found in the Southern Dry Forests (SDF) zone in the Winneba forest district. These are Ahirasu I & II, Akrabong, Obotumfo and Abasumba. These reserves, even though tiny, compared to many forest reserves in the country contain rare but important flora and fauna. These GSBAs are located within a vast sea of conspicuously degraded areas depicting exposed rocky hills. The Forestry Commission is the agency responsible for the management of these GSBAs in collaboration with the fringe communities.
2.2 Problem Statement

These fringe communities, initially largely depended on the GSBAs for their livelihood. Now that they have been designated as GSBAs they have been denied access to both timber and non-timber forest resources. Besides, while some landowners and fringe communities obtain revenue in the form of stumpage and Social Obligations under the Social Responsibility Agreement respectively, the situation is quite the contrary in these areas.

The result has been the loss of agricultural land in an area where land is already scarce. As if that was not enough pineapple plantation has taken over the remaining land. One of the immediate consequences of this phenomenon is the migration of the youth to the urban centers to search for green pastures.


To develop the GSBAs into ecotourism sites in order to create jobs as well as earn revenue for the people whilst protecting them.


The key objectives of the project are to:

1. Build the capacities of the fringe communities to collaborate with the Forestry Commission to protect the five Globally Significant Bio-diversity Areas (GSBAs);
2. To harness the ecotourism potentials of the GSBA to generate revenue for members of participating communities and District Assemblies;
3. Establish woodlots for both domestic and commercial use
4. Support the development of alternative livelihood ventures in order to relieve the pressure on the forests.


GSBAs in the southern dry zone in the Winneba forest district are endowed with potential tourist sites which could be developed to benefit local people, the district, the nation, and the world at large, hence, the development of this eco-tourism plan for implementation. The identified tourist sites include the following:

Akrabong is believed to house several gods. Inhabitants of the fringe communities consider Fridays as a taboo day and, therefore, do not enter the forest. The chiefs and elders perform rituals at the shrine within the reserve annually. Inside the forest is a spot believed to by the “bathouse’ of the Elephants

Osono Aguareye in Akrabong forest reserve

Obotumfo derives its name from a cave on top of the hill. The cave has a wide opening that is likely to accommodate over ten people. Like any other cave, however, it is always dark inside.

Arial view of Obotumfo


Ahirasu forest reserve derives its name from water held in the small pocket of rocks within the forest. This water is believed to be inexhaustible; it is said to serve the communities during the dry season though it appears very little. According to the people, several buckets of water could be fetched at a time from this small pocket of water collected in the rock.

One of the beliefs of the people is that the rocks (gods) abhor any red cloth. They claim that a snake chases anybody who goes there in red attire. Besides, Fridays are regarded as taboo days for Ahirasu I & II forest reserves.

Ahirasu Stream
The team continued to the Abasumba forest reserve. There is located a rock which has one side carved into a cave. On top of it is flat where summer hat could be built. Besides, the trees on it could also be identified and labeled for educational and research purposes.

For one to get there one has to climb a steep hill. The rocks have the highest possibility of being developed as a tourist site. Climbing the hill is exciting, especially, to the adventurous ones.

The Abasumba Rock

The side of the rock shaped like a Cave

Besides, there is an arrangement of three stones as the traditional tripod with one lying on top as if they were arranged physically. At the side is the shrine of the community. Unfortunately, we were asked not to take photographs until we had sought permission from the chief and elders.


The Awutus celebrate the Awubia festival. It is held at the last week of August. This consists of family meetings and slaughtering of cattle and sheep by each of these families. Heads and the rest of the family welcome participants including tourists. The representative of the Chief of the Bereku, the ‘’Okomfo’’ and his retinue go to the shrine where they perform the ritual to purify the different clans in the traditional areas by slaughtering a bull and ram.

On the field in front of the House of Chiefs the various chiefs and people prepare and commence a procession through the town to the “Grove”. They are carried in palanquins through the principal street of Awutu Beraku in splendid paraphernalia whilst an array of stools marches ahead of them. Through observation, interviews and photography one gathers data on the festival for incorporation of an ecotourism development plan. According to the chiefs and the people the festival and its relevance is mainly to conserve natural resources of the area. According to them, one of the shrines is located in the Aprah Hills, considered to be a sacred grove, near to the community. They have, therefore, protected the forest from encroachment and other negative practices, which serve as threats to the reserve.


By the end of the project the project is expected to achieve the following:

• A multi-purpose Ecological Resource Learning and Information Centre completed;
• A community-based eco-tourism ecotourism plan developed and implemented
• 10-ha community woodlot established would be operating as a way to generate income from the GSBAs whilst protecting them.
• Livelihood enterprises that support biodiversity conservation and ecotourism supported


Output 1: Multi-purpose Ecological Resource Learning and Information Centre

Planned Activities

Undertake Community Sensitization/Environmental Education

There shall be two types of training programmes. The first set of activities would be a community forum in each of the communities to sensitize the people on the importance of the project in particular and to be aware that tourists and other visitors may soon be in their midst in the foreseeable future.

The other would be environmental education designed to train the CBAG members to be able to offer environmental education to the citizens of their respective communities. Besides, there shall be a day’s community-based environmental education to offer members the opportunity to interact with experts.

Later, volunteers shall organise a series of meetings to collect and collate the views of chiefs, elders, landowners, farmers and the citizenry of the respective community on the project. During such meetings participants shall be allowed to express their views freely. Any misgiving shall be carefully examined and appropriate action taken at the appropriate time.

Complete and refurbish Ecological Training Centre

A multi-purpose ecological resource learning and information centre would be established as part of the project. The Centre, when completed, would comprise a number of facilities. These would include a car park, reception zone where tourists would be received and briefed on the background of the area and what to expect at each site before they embark on their tour. The others shall include: overnight accommodation, restaurant and bar, library, entertainment area where the cultural troupe (to be formed) would perform and for indoor games such as Ludo, Dame, Oware and Playing Cards and later an internet cafe. A solar system shall be installed to provide energy for the Centre. The chief of Bewuanum has already released a piece of land for the construction of the Centre which is at the roofing level. The centre will also develop an information centre which will document festivals celebrated in the Awutu area; conserve the rich cultural, historical, and scientific information of the people of Awutu; keep information boards about different topics concerning the GSBAs such as the origin, environmental problems.

Develop a Business Plan to Manage the Ecological learning Centre

The project will first develop a master plan to guide the development and operation of the Centre, supply materials to the local people to complete the construction of the resource centre and equip the centre with basic materials.

Initiate training Programmes at the Resource Centre

In collaboration with FSD, MOFA and other resources persons from the NGO fraternity, the centre will initiate training courses for local community members and groups in the following areas:

• Bio-diversity conservation and management education;
• Wildfire prevention, control and management;
• Nursery establishment and plantation development;
• Agro forestry and organic farming
• Rearing of Wildlife in captivity
• Biodiversity enterprise development
• Project management.

Output 2 A community-based eco-tourism ecotourism plan developed and implemented

Planned Activities

Formulation of Ecotourism Plan and Committee

In collaboration with the Ghana Tourist Board and the District Assembly, the project will first develop ecotourism plan for the GSBAs. A local Ecotourism Committee will be formed and trained to implement the ecotourism plan.

The project will mobilize the CBAG to undertake the following activities:

Establishment of Nature Trails

Trails shall be opened and maintained on regular basis. They shall commence at the entrance of each GSBA leading to tourist sites, summer huts, picnic spots and labelled trees. They shall be maintained to serve as routes for tourists and other visitors. On the trails where there are steep slopes, railings with ropes shall be provided to enhance ascending and descending.

Construction of Directional Signs

These shall be erected at strategic points to indicate where to find what, that is, directions to specific places such as trees, picnic sites and summer huts among others, including the distances.

Summer Huts/ Rest Stop
Summer huts would be built at strategic points on top of all the five GSBAs where tourists and visitors would use as resting places. Apart from the fact the tourists and visitors may get tired after climbing the hills of the GSBAs they may provide space for snacks and lunch. Another one would be constructed along the trail of Obotumfo cave due to the lengthy and sloppy nature of the trail.

Picnic Areas

An ideal area shall be identified in each GSBA and developed where church groups, students, clubs and others may go to pray, play, have fun or learn.

Training of Tour Guides

Twelve selected members of the CBAGs would be given intensive training on how to be effective and efficient Tour Guides. They are to be trained by the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB). As part of the training the trainees would be taken on two study tours to Boabeng–Fiema and Tafi Atome where similar community eco-tourism initiatives operate. The purpose of the trips would be to learn how the two facilities have been organized by the respective communities and the facilities provided. Training would also cover Book-Keeping, Management of Small Enterprises, Report Writing and Preparation of Management Plans.

Tree Identification

All the trees along the trails as well as others elsewhere would be identified and labeled. Among the inscriptions shall be the uses of such trees, especially those of medicinal value. This would offer tourists and visitors the opportunity to learn of the importance and values of trees. The names of the trees, short notes and other inscriptions shall hang on the respective tree.

Botanical and Zoological Surveys

There is a diversity of plant and animal life in the GSBAs. The variety and density of tree species have already been conducted. There is the need to look out for more particularly interesting trees to be identified for the purposes of tourism. Since the earlier work covered trees there is the need to carry out a survey of small plants and Non-Timber forest Products (NTFPs). Further work would also be required to determine the faunal composition.

Green Fire Breaks

Since wildfires have been a threat to forest protection in the country, especially in the southern dry forest zone, every effort shall be made to keep fire away from the GSBAs. Already, the project has established approximately, 40 kilometres of green fire breaks of 20-metre width around all the five GSBAs. These shall be continued to be maintained to prevent wild fires from entering any of the GSBAs.

Buffer Zone

Initial work has been done on growing citrus and mango around the GSBAs. The project intends to introduce the buffer zone concept that would be used to establish woodlots and medicinal plants. A tree nursery would be established for the purpose.

Cultural Troupe

A cultural troupe would be attached to the facility. There exist smaller groups in the various communities. These shall be consolidated and the members trained to entertain tourists and visitors especially over the week-ends.


At the Centre a place shall be allocated for displaying and selling of traditional artifacts.

OUTPUT 3 10-ha community woodlot established would be operating as a way to generate income from the GSBAs whilst protecting them

Planned Activities

The project will assist the members of the CBAG to establish 2 ha each community woodlot to ensure supply of woodfuel to the communities. In addition individual with land would be assisted to establish woodlot for the supply of woodfuels. The seedlings for the planting will be supplied from the Forest Services Division nurseries.

OUTPUT 4 Livelihood enterprises that support biodiversity conservation and ecotourism supported

Planned Activities

The project will introduce the CBAGs to grasscutter, snail farming and apiculture. The participants would be trained at the ecological training centre. A revolving fund would be set up for interested members to acess loan to set up the business
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Project Snapshot

Area Of Work:
Land Degradation
Grant Amount:
US$ 30,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 26,900.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 31,700.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Significant Participation of Indigenous Peoples
All the immediate beneficiares of the project are indigenous citizens.
Policy Influence
Supported the implementation of Community involvement in natural resource management
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Number of globally significant species protected by project 5
Hectares of globally significant biodiversity area protected or sustainably managed by project 350
Number of innovations or new technologies developed/applied 2
Number of local policies informed in biodiversity focal area 2
Number of national policies informed in biodiversity focal area 1
Number of CBOs / NGOs participated / involved in SGP project 2
Number of CBOs / NGOs formed or registered through the SGP project 1
Number of women participated / involved in SGP project 20
Hectares of degraded land rest 500
Number of innovations or new technologies developed / applied 2
Total monetary value (US dollars) of ecosystem goods sustainably produced and providing benefit to project participants and/or community as a whole (in the biodiversity, international waters, and land degradation focal areas as appropriate) 5000
Increase in household income by increased income or reduced costs due to SGP project 200
Number of households who have benefited* from SGP project 40
Number of individuals (gender diaggregated) who have benefited* from SGP project 200

SGP Country office contact

Dr. George Buabin Ortsin
Ms. Lois Sarpong
+233 505740909


UNDP, Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme P.O. Box 1423
Accra, Greater Accra, 233-302
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