Akyem Juaso Nature Conservation Project Area

Mon, 21 Jan 2013 Source: Thompson, Kofi

By Kofi Thompson

Located in the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest, at Akyem Abuakwa in Ghana's Eastern Region, the Akyem Juaso Nature Conservation Project Area, lies in an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA).

It points the way forward for areas in the forest belt of Ghana, now having to contend with environmental degradation and pollution, on an apocalyptic scale.

A nature-lover's paradise, unfortunately, it is threatened by hunters, illegal gold miners and loggers.

The area is rich in bird life and perfect for birding trips whiles in Ghana.

Every year, millions of migrating butterflies pass through it. It is an extraordinary and awe-inspiring spectacle to behold.

It used occur in May, but global climate change having made a complete nonsense of migratory patterns, they can now be expected between May and June.

Blessed with cool weather because of its elevation, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

It contains many rare plants and species of insects, amphibians and mammals found nowhere else on the planet Earth. Tree ferns are an example.

Other rare plants such as the Black Star plant (Lacaniodiscus epunctatus), Blue Star plant (Celtis durendii), and orchids also grow there.

Its clear and pristine streams contain rare species of frogs, crabs and fish: including goldfish.

The cascading waters of the dramatic and spectacular Akoosu stream are lined on the higher reaches of its banks with huge granite boulders.

It has some of the best hiking trails in Ghana - perfect for extreme hiking enthusiasts wanting to test their endurance.

And as we speak volunteers from South Africa are working with local people to cut more hiking trails.

Volunteering opportunities exist for volun-tourists to work with the local community in the Akyem Juaso Conservation Area project.

As a living laboratory and nature resource-reserve, it is ideal for field-study trips by natural-science researchers.

Future plans include building a forest canopy walkway, installing ziplines, developing yet more extreme hiking trails, constructing tree-house eco-lodges and a visitor centre as centrepiece attractions, in the project to turn the P. E. Thompson Estate's (P. E. T. E.) Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest into a community-based eco-tourism destination.

The project will also use the P. E. T. E's 99.6 acres forest-land (formally known as an "admitted farm") inside the official Atewa Range Forest Reserve, as a community-based carbon sequestration project.

The Akyem Juaso Conservation Project Area lies in part of the P. E. T. E's 14 square mile off-reserve forest-land on the slopes of the Atewa Range.

The idea is to use community-based eco-tourism as a tool for the conservation of the P. E. T. E's Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest off-reserve slopes land - and offer it to humankind as a nature resource-reserve.

It is a unique public private partnership between the P. E. T. E. and the Chief and people of Akyem Juaso, a fringe-forest cocoa-farming village at Akyem Abuakwa in Ghana's Eastern Region.

It will boost the local economy by creating jobs and micro-entrepreneurship opportunities such as: guiding; mountain bike rentals; operating traditional local cuisine restaurants; selling traditional beads and handicraft; renting out rooms for tourist homestay accommodation with families in the community; selling fruits; etc., for local people.

Indeed a concrete pillar with the letters GSBA etched on it, was erected inside the P. E. T. E's forest land, by the Conservation International researchers.

Greenheart Conservation of Canada, is committed to partnering the P. E. T. E. and the Chief and people of Akyem Juaso, to ensure that it becomes a world-class eco-tourism destination.

For an opportunity to enjoy an authentic rural experience in Ghana that is truly unique, please contact: info@mandjtravelghana.com or telephone Marian:0244514824.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com.

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi