Akim Oda, Sept. 6, GNA - A stakeholders workshop to discuss land use plan prepared by the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) for the development of the "Big Tree" site into a tourist attraction centre was held at Akim Oda on Monday. The Big Tree, which is reputed to be the biggest tree in West Africa, is located in the Esem-Epam Forest Reserve at Akim Asanteman in the Birim South District.
The Acting Executive Director of the GTB, Mr Martin Mireku, reminded the stakeholders, including chiefs, Assembly members, Heads of Departments and opinion leaders that the protection of the Tree should be their major concern.
He urged them to take the necessary measures to prevent communities leaving along the fringes of the forest reserve from deforesting it to help prolong the life-span of the big tree.
He assured them of the determination of the GTB and the Ministry of Tourism to develop the site to attract tourists to help generate employment and revenue for the government and the District Assembly.
The District Chief Executive, Mr Frank Kwame Busumtwi, said even though the place was not developed, both Ghanaians and foreigners pay visits, especially at the weekends to the Big Tree, adding that effective implementation of the plan would make the place more attractive to tourists.
He pledged commitment of the District Assembly towards the successful development of the Big Tree site and all other tourist attraction sites in the district.
Tourism Planner, Mr Joseph B. Lomo-Mainoo, who presented the land use development plan, said the Big Tree environment presented opportunities and challenges for tourism development.
He said the tourism land use and environmental plan proposals was geared towards making the optimum use of the Esan-Epam forest resources to help rejuvenate other depressed economic resources such as agriculture and non-timber forest products.