Saturday, April 14, 2007
Nkwanta develops Kyabobo Park
By: Winston Tamakloe
THERE is no gainsaying the fact that the Volta Region is a potential major tourist destination in Ghana and abounds with a lot of diverse tourism products.
Natural or protected areas, historic sites, cultural traditions, festivals, arts, crafts and traditional architecture are some of the resources which need more development in order to boost the tourism industry, in the region.
One of such natural attractions is the Kyabobo National Park in the Nkwanta district, an asset in the eco-tourism sector of the region. The eco-tourism potential of the Kyabobo National Park is enormous scenery. It is ideal for hiking as well as the waterfalls and streams that flow out of it which can be developed. It also has the ‘hanging village’ Shaira, sited on top of the mountain.
Interestingly, the park is part of the Western edge of the Dahomey Gap, extending to the isolated Togo Hill Ranges which is part of the four ranges in West Africa.
It is located near Ghana’s second highest mountain Djebobo, with a high latitude relative to the rest of the country and thus serves as a major watershed in the area.
Its location has made it home for endemic species such as the Kyabobo laurences, a new butterfly species that was recently discovered.
It also serves as home to endangered species like the bongo, leopards and the giant pangolin among others.
Rivers like Kpassa, Bonakye and Chai flow into the Volta Lake thus increasing its water intake, and take their source from the area.
It, however needs special protection through conservation and from encroachment to maintain the drainage system.
According to the Park Manager, Mr. Luri Kanton, the involvement of local communities in the protection of the reserve against illegal use could derive enormous benefits through direct use of wildlife products, employment, eco-tourism and social services. In this regard, and in the case of Kyabobo National Park, there have been negotiations, agreement and collaborations with wildlife management in and around the reserve areas to promote eco-tourism.
He said “ultimate goal of collaborative natural resources management is the protection and development of wildlife and resources.
People and conservation can no longer be separated. Community involvement in conservation is about finding a balance between biodiversity management and improvement of local people’s livelihood and security. Today, population growth is becoming increasingly dependent on the small and shrinking eco-tourism.
Developments taking place in the Kyabobo is geared towards creation of jobs and wealth for the youth and accelerated the development of the area. Moreover, it is now increasingly recognized that protected areas must play a major role in sustaining rural livelihoods, especially the local communities by involving them in the management and decision-making and by providing access to some of the resources in the reserves to offset opportunity cost and conflicts associated with eco-tourism and wildlife conservation.
The rationale behind such initiatives is to boost support for wildlife conservation and eco-tourism among local community members.
Past experience of working with local communities in reserve management in Ghana has been extremely limited but this is possible through effective collaboration. The management of the Park has been deliberately designed to demonstrate the efficacy of collaborative resource management in the protected area system of this country.
Mr. Kanton pointed our that “Kyabobo National Park is the only protected area in Ghana where successive governments tried to move away from strict compulsory acquisition to negotiations with local communities or landowners. Sadly to say, this is negatively affecting the development of eco-tourism and the conservation of the Park”.
The introduction of the collaborative concept in the Park should mark a significant turning point for resource management for communities within the area to improve their socio-economic status through the encouragement of partnerships and collaboration to harmonise land use in the most profitable way for the future, thereby securing benefits for the people while at the same time assuring the integrity of the environment both inside and outside the Park.
The Spectator - Saturday, April 14, 2007 Page 19