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NGOs to restore proper management to Cape Three Point forest reserve

HEN MPOANO, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has embarked on a project to properly manage the Cape Three Points key biodiversity area.

The NGO says it is going to undertake that project with funding support from Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) through the BirdLife International Regional Implementation Team

The project is to strengthen the existing Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) structures to implement some of the management actions, which include reforestation and general buffer zone management.

As a result of this, the NGO says the CREMA members have started planting trees in critical ecological sites which have been identified and mapped out through a spatial assessment of existing satellite and drone images.

Mr Justice Camillus Mensah, the Project Coordinator of Hen Mpoano, explained that the exercise was aimed at restoring the ecological integrity of the forest landscape by re-establishing the connection which existed between the forest reserve and the adjoining coastal wetlands.

According to him, the main challenge facing the Cape Three Points area is the rapid loss of the forests and wildlife, which are rapidly being replaced by monoculture stands primarily of rubber trees and some palms for oil, leaving the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve as a remnant of the area’s biodiversity.

Seedling mobilization

He explained further that in their attempt to restore the ecological integrity of the reserve, his outfit (Hen Mpoano) had raised 5,776 seedlings of native tree species to plant them in critical ecological sites and existing farms within the forest buffer zone.

According to him, the seedlings were mobilized from two different sources with support from the CREMA members and Hen Mpoano, adding that over 800 seedlings came from their nursery site.

The exercise also received over 5,000 additional seedlings from a sister NGO, Goshen Global Vision.

Fights to restore forest integrity

For his part, Adjei Sampson Acheampong, the Developing Planning Officer of Ahanta Municipal Assembly, said the most recent management plan, which started from 2007 to 2011 for the CTPFR, supported a permanently protected forest management regime.

This, he said, was because of the high Genetic Heat Index (GHI) of the reserve and the uniqueness of its biological resources.

He said this management plan had unfortunately failed to acknowledge the ecological services provided by Adjacent Mangrove Forests and Coastal Wetlands, especially as refuge for migrating fauna from the forest reserve.

He said if nothing was done immediately, the CTPFR and its adjoining Coastal Wetland and Mangrove Forests would experience further degradation resulting from mounting pressures of land use change to transform forested landscapes to areas for other land uses.

Mr Acheampong explained how his office had joined in the fight to restore the integrity of the forest.

Illegal activities

According to the project coordinator, activities such as illegal logging and poaching have increased and the ecological integrity of the forest reserve and its adjoining aquatic forests are permanently being altered.

He said this could worsen poverty in forest-dependent communities and reinforce natural resource degradation, adding that the coastal mangrove forest in peripheral areas could also be lost with the attendant loss of the refuge for fauna migrating from the forest reserve.

Challenges

The Assistant Manager at Ghana’s Forestry Commission, Nana Afia Hodibert, said the practice had been a worrisome phenomenon because on few occasions people managed to go into the forest and indulge in some sort of illegalities.

But she was quick to add that in most cases, with their monitoring team and a task force on the ground, the Commission managed to effect arrest of culprits, who are later made to face the law.

She added that those found culpable were made to pay for their actions.

About the project

Under the auspices of Birdlife International, Hen Mpoano is working with CREMA communities and other stakeholders to protect the integrity of the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve under the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot Small Grants Mechanism.

The two-year project is titled ‘Enhancing Participatory Planning and Management of Cape Three Points Key Biodiversity Area’ and it has the goal to strengthen existing CREMA structures to work together with other stakeholders such as Goshen Global Vision (GGV), Forestry Commission, the Municipal Assembly amongst others for effective management of the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve and adjoining coastal wetlands and mangrove ecosystems

Hen Mpoano says it hopes that Cape Three Points CREMA is empowered and CREMA communities work together to safeguard wildlife and halt further degradation of the CTPFR and adjacent coastal wetlands and mangrove forests.

Ecological goods and services from the CTPFR and adjacent coastal wetlands, as well as mangrove forests, are enhanced for them to provide long-term societal benefits.

Ghana/dailyheritage/FRANCISCA DICKSON ARHIN

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