On Friday February 17th, A Rocha Ghana organized an excursion to Kakum National Park for forty-five stakeholders from areas bordering the Atewa Forest Reserve. The stakeholders spent the day at Kakum in the Central Region learning about the history of the national park, the structure of national park governance, business legal aspects and most importantly, the social and environmental impacts the park has had in the region. The trip also served to spark a more serious discussion around tourism possibilities for the Atewa Forest if granted a national park status. The group included chiefs, leaders of A Rocha Interfaith Eco-Networks, and representatives of the Clergy, Assembly Members, District Coordinating Directors, and the Forestry Commission.
Upon arrival at the park the group was hosted by Mr. Enoch Ameseh Ashie, the Chief Resource Manager at Kakum. Mr. Ashie welcomed the team to the Kakum National Park and expressed the Forestry Commission’s profound gratitude and joy to host them on their mission to learn from the experienced staff at Kakum.
The group discovered through discussions with Mr. Ashie that the protection of Kakum National Park was much stronger than the current conditions at Atewa Forest Reserve. He noted that it is nearly impossible for galamsey operators to work within the park; guards are stationed at every entry point for several days at a time. They are resourced appropriately and are trained to handle weapons giving them the courage to do their job without fear. The galamsey operators approach Kakum with caution and are generally too afraid to enter the park, he noted. As a rule, National Park laws are very stringent and grant entry to only researchers by permit and welcome tourists.
Plans for a future Atewa National Park includes the protection of the entire area of the forest reserve and sustainable investment and management of the forest buffer zone, which is currently being destroyed most acutely by ‘galamsey’ (Illegal mining) operators.
The excursion strengthened the commitment of the visiting team to get Atewa forest protected for long term benefits. The Chiefs particularly “realised that the illegal mining has caused Atewa Forest more harm than good and thereby resolved unanimously that;