Fodome-Ahor, Nov 01, GNA - The Gbledi and Fodome-Ahor community, under the auspices of the Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS), have submitted a draft bylaw to the Hohoe District Assembly for consideration under the Afadjato-Agumatsa Community Forest Conservation Project. Dr Erasmus Owusu, Acting Executive Director of the GWS, said the bylaw would provide legal protection for the 12-kilometre square nature reserve.
Dr Owusu, who was speaking at the inauguration of a 189-million cedi Nubui Guest House at Fodome-Ahor in the Hohoe District, said direct local over dependence on forest resources and the annual bush fires threaten the existence of forests, wildlife, biodiversity and eco-tourism potentials of the area.
The 10-room guesthouse project was funded by the British High Commission under its small grants scheme with the Ho Diocese of the Catholic Church donating a defunct vocational school structure to be converted into the hospitality outfit.
Dr Owusu said the communities had been empowered with alternative sources of livelihood, including bee keeping, gari making, woodlots and palm oil plantation to stem forest degradation. He said Gbledi and Fodome communities were the first in forest conservation and protection in the country that had culminated into increased number of tourist arrivals to the area.
Dr Owusu said in 2004, 2,615 tourists visited the area as against 600 tourists in 2000.
He said he was confident that by consolidating the achievement so far made through the development of local capacity and partnership, the Afadjato-Agumatsa Project would become a model for conservation and integrated development not only in the Hohoe District but the country as a whole.
Mr John-Peter Amewu, the Hohoe District Chief Executive, said the inadequacy of infrastructure, including access roads and hospitality facilities was a setback to he tourism industry.
Mrs Menaa Rawlings, the Deputy British High Commissioner, said about 940,000-kilometre square of the world's forest had been subjected to intense degradation annually in the last 10 years as a result of the quest of man for survival.
She therefore acknowledged the community-based initiatives to rejuvenate the forests, conserving their rich bio-diversity, medicinal plants and eco-tourism as a welcome approach to be emulated by others. Mrs Rawlings advised that the income accruing from the project should be ploughed back into resuscitating the local economy and livelihood and called for attitudes that extend the lifespan of the facilities.
Togbe Akorli III, chief of Fodome-Ahor, called for the construction of access roads to the facility, which is strategically located between the Agumatsa Wli Waterfalls, the highest falls in West Africa and Afadjato, the highest mountain in Ghana.