THE PRESIDENT of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), Ms Nancy Sam, has condemned the current state of neglect of Ghana’s wetlands and water bodies and has called for the country to take advantage of their immense eco-tourism development potential.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop on Thursday, at the final leg of a road show held for members of TOUGHA across the Upper East, Ashanti, Central and Greater Accra regions, Ms Sam said there was the need for the private sector and civil society groups to work together to help develop a set of guidelines for the development of community-based interventions for the protection of wetlands and water bodies across the country.
“A tour to several wetlands and water bodies across the country by some selected members of TOUGHA late 2016 revealed that there are a number of interventions taking place to protect our water bodies and wetlands at the community level but most of these initiatives are not making the desired impact largely because they lack [the qualities] to be complementary,” she said.
She added that, “This could be dealt with if there were in place a set of national guidelines to guide such communities in the development of their interventions at the community levels and to provide a framework for TOUGHA to co-ordinate such activities and eliminate duplication of efforts, enhance collaboration and eliminate possible conflict arising from project territory overlaps.
A resource person, Mr Kofi Kyeremeh, highlighted the important functions that wetlands play in the environment such as maintenance of water table, prevention of floods and erosion, storm protection, water purification and micro-climate stabilization.
“Wetlands provide habitat for high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates species. Thousands of waterfowl, many of them migratory, visit Ghana during the northern winter.
“About 60% of all fish catches from the sea spawn in coastal wetlands. The West African Sitatunga, thought to be extinct in West Africa, has been discovered recently in the Volta Delta. This shows the huge eco-tourism potential of Ghana if we work together to protect our wetlands and water bodies.
“The spectacular concentration of different species of animals and plants in wetlands provides opportunities for tourism and recreational activities. These include bird-watching, game-viewing and sport fishing,” Mr Kyeremeh said.