Thursday, April 5, 2007
Winneba Forests To Be Ecotourism Centers
Abbam Quaye Awutu-Efutu-Senya (DCE)
From: David Yarbol- Tetteh.
THE Forestry Commission in collaboration with the Gomoa and Awutu Effutu Senya assemblies, land owners and the community are discussing the implementation if ecotourism plan in reserves in the Winneba Forest.
The project is aimed at developing globally significant biodiversity areas (GSBAs) into ecotourism for job creation and revenue generation whilst protecting the forest from degradation.
After its realization, it would help in the restoration of the local, national and global climate and generation of the forest through community involvement.
It will also seek to offer opportunities for the inhabitants to be more involved in the management of neighbouring forests and also promote the economic standards of the people.
The identified areas include Ahirasu one and two, Akrebang, Obotomfo and Abasomba forest reserves located in the southern dry zone of the Winneba Forest District in the Awutu Effutu-Senya and Agona districts of the Central Region.
Communities that will benefit from the reserves are Boutrase, Akuaku, Miadwer, Mampong and Arkoful or Krodua among others.
The Abasumba Forest was reserved in 1927 and belongs to the Awutu Papaase stool covering a distance of 1.5 square kilometers with a perimeter of 3.48 kilometers.
It has a forest condition score of one and is mostly intact on an undulating land with scattered rocky hills. However, most of the boundary pillars are either defaced or broken.
Species which used to inhabit in the forest are ground squirrels and monkeys.
In the forest also, one could find the Abasumba rock which derived its name form a group of four rocks with one side of the rock shape like a cave and a potential tourist site.
It is believed that the first settlers of the area ground their maize on top of the cave.
Tuesdays and Fridays are considered sacred and a taboo for one to enter the reserve since the people consider the day as resting time for the gods.
The Ahirasu one and two was also reserved in 1927 and belongs to Ofadaa. It covers an area of 3.30 square kilometers and a perimeter of 4.16 kilometers. Tree species found in the reserve are triploclition and scleroxylon.
The forest derives its name from a rock in the forest which holds a small pocket of water. This water is said to serve the communities around.
Though the water looks very small, it is believed to be inexhaustible since several buckets of water could be fetched at a time from the small pocket of water collected in the rock. The rock god abhors any red item.
It is the belief among the inhabitants that anybody who goes there in red attire would be chased by a snake. It is also a taboo for anyone to enter the forest on Fridays.
The Obotumfo forest reserve on the other hand belongs to the Agona Kwanyako stool and it was reserved in 1930 with an area of 1.3 square kilometers. It got its name from a rock used as a shrine near the reserve. The land owners perform rituals at the shrine whenever it is deemed necessary.
The shrine is visited whenever there is the need to pacify or thank the god for something it has done for the community. Friday is a taboo day and no one is allowed into the forest.
The Akrabong forest reserve is slightly degraded and patchy with good forest. It was reserved in 1930 and belongs to the Agona Kwanyako Stool. The Gold Coast appointed a Reserve Settlement Commissioner in 1929 for the purpose of its constitution.
Abasumba was constituted as a forest reserve under the law passed in 1929, by Odeygey of Obutu. Abasumba, Ahirasu and Obotomfo were collectively constituted as forest reserves under the forest ordinance by governor’s order 21 of 1980.
Ahirasu, Akrabong and Obotumfo were collectively referred as Obotumfo and Akrabong hills forest reserve. The reserves were selected among 26 other forest reserves in 1999 as Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs).
Two admitted farms are currently being maintained at the site with Akropong and Mfaafo forming the surrounding communities.
It is believed that the forest has several gods and a river called “Osono Aguareye” (elephant bath house) with the belief that elephants used to bath in that river.
All the reserves were constituted under the 1927 forest ordinance.
The Spectator - Thursday, April 5, 2007 Page: 19