Accra, Feb. 2, GNA - Ghana joined the rest of the world to observe this year's World Wetlands Day with a call for the combination of cultural values with the natural environment to conserve wetlands and, at the same time, create wealth from water-related eco-tourism in areas with cultural attractions.¨
Mr Fredua Agyemang, Technical Director at the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, said some traditional norms and practices in some Ghanaian localities had contributed positively to the conservation of most of the wetland ecosystems for many years.
He said the financial benefits and employment generated through this would not be only a great asset for poverty reduction in local communities but also enhance their appreciation of wetlands as resources.
He said such an approach could be valid in many wetlands with significant cultural artefacts where visitors could be attracted to both their cultural and natural heritage.
"A particular case of relevance is the Amansuri Wetlands in the Jomoro District of the Western Region that has a very strong visitor interest.
Mr Agyemang said it was not only the financial considerations that concerned the local communities but the cultural aspect of their tradition and social identity that increased their self-esteem and readiness to safeguard particular sites.
He said the enhancement of the cultural values, wherever they were, and the efforts to preserve them where they were at risk of disappearing, could become a powerful tool in strengthening the links of local populations to their wetlands, their 'sense of place', and thus involving them actively in their conservation.
Mr Charles C. Amankwah, Coordinator, Wetlands Conservation of the Forestry Commission, said over the past decades the perception of wetland values had changed, and continue to change yet the temptation was still strong to over-use wetland resources and convert them to other uses that might give more rapid and substantial economic returns.
"As a nation, we need to do more to help people to be aware of the true values of wetlands and their functions, so that we can count upon more defenders when it comes to influencing governments and decisions on natural resources management to protect them and use them sustainable basis and equitably."