Accra, May 22, – Ghana on Monday joined the global community to observe the International Day for Biological Diversity (biodiversity) emphasising the need to protect the Atiwa Range Forest Reserve for posterity.
A release issued on Monday and signed by Ms Patricia Appiagyei, the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, entreated each and every citizen to serve as a biodiversity conservation ambassador.
It said each and every citizen should assist in the crusade to create the necessary education and awareness on the need to conserve the biodiversity resources and, by extension, project the tourism potential of Ghana
The Biodiversity Day was proposed by the international community to draw the world’s attention to the need to conserve biologically diversified resources that God has endowed humankind for survival.
The global theme for the celebration is: “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism,” and the Ministry was focusing on promoting tourism that does not compromise the biodiversity of the tourist.
It said government’s support for the environment had been largely driven by Article 36 (9) of the 1992 Constitution under its Directive Principles of State Policy.
The Directive states that: “The state shall take appropriate measures needed to protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity; and shall seek co-operation with other states and bodies for purposes of protecting the wider international environment for mankind”.
Article 41(k) also states: “The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and safeguard the environment.”
The release said those two provisions, therefore, enjoined Ghanaians as citizens to contribute to the protection of the environment.
It said the Sector Ministry and its collaborating partners would, however, like to draw more attention to the biological resources and tourism potential of the Atiwa Range Forest Reserve.
The Atiwa Reserve, a distinctive upland forest vegetation rich with a number of very rare species covering an area of 23,663ha, is located at Segyema in the Eastern Region.
The forests of Atiwa are more or less undisturbed natural vegetation, a rare phenomenon in West Africa. This reserve has numerous fauna species, some of which are endemic.
The reserve also has a wide variety of natural habitats such as streams, swamps, closed forests and natural clearings which support a rich variety of fauna such as Killfish (Epiplatyschaperi) and Walker’s barb (Barbuswalkeri) which have great potentials in the aquarium trade.
The tourism potential of Atiwa is further supported by the fact that it is one of 34 Global Biodiversity hotspots, one of Ghana’s Globally Significant Biodiversity areas, and also the nearest rain forest close to Accra.
Atiwa is an internationally important reserve as the range provides the headwaters of three river systems, namely; Ayensu, Densu and Birim, which together serve as the source of domestic and industrial water for local communities within its catchment areas as well as water for millions in Accra.
The Ministry is, therefore, using the day to highlight the potential of the reserve in bringing in more tourists and invariably development to the Atiwa area without sacrificing the biological resource endowments of the area.
The release noted that the Ministry had prepared a draft National Biodiversity Policy which is undergoing stakeholder consultations and reviews and that, when completed, a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan would be developed to operationalise its effective implementation.
It would serve as the underlying force for the protection of all biodiversity resources.