The School of Natural and Environmental Sciences (SNES) of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) and the Make Nature Smile Park, a tourist at Senchi in the Eastern Region are to establish a partnership toward conservation research. The Partnership is expected to create an avenue for the exploration of the rich flora and fauna species found in the Akwamu Traditional area for educational and ecotourism purposes.
This was revealed at a meeting in Senchi between the then Dean of SNES, Prof Edward Wiafe Debrah, (now the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the UESD), and his team and the Head of the Trust, Nana Asamoah Yeboah –Afari I, and his delegation.
Explaining the details of the proposed partnership between the two entities, Nana Yeboah-Afari I, stated that the relationship aims to provide both the park and the UESD with the needed resources in the study of the rich ecosystem of the Gorge.
The partnership is also envisaged to create an ecotourism hub for the public and serve as a source of study resources for scientists and researchers interested in the treasures of the Gorge which contains endangered species like the ‘Picathartes Gymnoephalus bird’ which is worth preserving.
The chief explained that the white-necked Picathartes bird is considered one of Africa’s most desirable birds and is a great symbol of ecotourism across its range, but it is globally threatened, particularly in the West African Sub-Region. Luckily, Ghana has the largest colony of these birds in its forest reserve in the Akwamu area; hence the need to keep them protected.
He said, rare species of trees are also found in the Gorge area which includes Talbotiella Gentii. He expressed the hope that the University would make use of the resources available in the forest reserve in its conservation education for students.
Nana Asamoah Yeboah-Afari I, was confident the partnership between the two entities would grow beyond the goodwill it has already enjoyed and not only improves the visibility of the park, but will also have a positive effect on the entire Akwamu community and neighboring towns.
The Liaison officer of the park, Nana Yaw Ampem Darko Jr, said, the Gorge is also strategically positioned to promote ecotourism in the country and has the potential to draw traffic of bird watchers from around the world to the Gorge. He anticipated that the youth in the area would be equipped with the requisite skills necessary to drive entrepreneurship to support the activities of the park by serving as tour guides and rendering other services to the guests that would visit the park.
Responding, Prof. Wiafe Debrah, expressed excitement about the managers of the park’s intention to open up the park to scientists and researchers. He revealed that there are many other rare species of trees which can be further discovered.
Prof Wiafe Debrah encouraged the Management of the park to engage the District Assembly to take advantage of the Community Resources Management Area (CREMA) to promote the site. He said under the said programme, Management could be authorized by the government to enact its own by-laws for the protection and management of the reserve.
He also advised them to set up a visitors’ centre as a means of generating income from the park and as a matter of urgency, showcase an aspect of the park on the world scope for bird watchers. This has the potential of redirecting the travel plans of bird watchers to the Gorge.
An MOU is expected to be drafted for subsequent vetting and signing.