Tourism firm launches campaign against illegal felling of trees

 

Ashanti African Tours, a tourism development organisation in Ghana, has made an intervention to protect forest reserves and endangered animal species in some parts of the country to develop tourism.

 The tourism organisation has dialogued with communities where activities of poachers and loggers have been destroying forests and killing endangered animal species to stop these destructive activities.

 

These communities will receive school buildings and other developmental projects if they resolve to stop these destructive activities.

 

Speaking at a ceremony to hand over an eight-unit classroom block to Bonkro and its surrounding communities in the Ashanti Region, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ashanti African Tours, Mark Williams, said Ghana served as an ideal destination for many tourists from across the world and government should take urgent steps to protect the forest resources.

 

The tourism company that focuses primarily on seeing the exceptional diversity of wildlife that occurs in Ghana bargained with the communities to cease the chainsaw operations in the forest and in exchange get a school building and other facilities that are crucial to the development of the communities.

 

“The destruction to the forest reserve here has led to the extinction of many species of animals including many bird species. We needed to do something to save the situation.”

 

“We needed to do something to help the community stop the wanton destruction of the forest, the consequences which will destroy many animal species,” he said.

Mark Williams says an understanding was reached between the company and the communities upon which the community demanded a school be built for them in order to leave the forest intact.

“We put it before them, they agreed to stop felling the trees. Initially, it wasn’t easy but they understood to put their community and Ghana first rather than the selfish parochial interest,” he said.

 

The NGO has also been embarking on Picathartes Education and Conservation for Knowledge Fund which aims to support the three communities which surround a small area of Upper Guinea Rainforest protecting endangered bird and mammal species, including the Long-tailed Pangoline and at least 24 nesting sites for an endangered bird species, the Yellow-headed Picathartes.

 

“Ultimately we hope that by showing our commitment to the communities through ethical travel and eco-tourism, enabling them to see the immediate benefits of conserving the habitat, they will help us stop the illegal logging and hunting activities by locals who come from or pass through their communities,” he indicated.

 

Ashanti African Tours has also initiated moves to construct a reception centre and accommodation facilities in the communities to welcome tourists to the communities at a fee.

 

The funds realised, according to the NGO, would be used to support the development of the community.

Ashanti African Tours also called on the government to make the Atewa Forest a National Park since it will serve as a premier destination of tourism in the country because of its huge tourism potentials.

 

“The Atewa forest is Ghana’s premier destination. It has many bird species and will serve as a great place for tourism if it is established as a national park,” he assured.

 

 

Story: From Today CORRESPONDENT

 

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