By Kofi Thompson
One of the most effective ways that nature-lovers in our country can help halt the menace of illegal gold mining, is by supporting sustainable local economic alternatives - which help conserve the natural environment: particularly that of Ghana's forest belt.
If environmental activists in our country think creatively, between Corporate Ghana and keep-fit clubs in wealthy residential areas in urban Ghana, for example, we could find influential allies who could play important roles in helping to protect the remainder of our nation's rain forests.
Human resource departments of companies seeking to bond their management teams, and the membership of keep-fit clubs in wealthy residential areas, could all indulge their employees' and members' passion for physical fitness, by taking up rainforest conservation initiatives that have hiking as the centrepiece attraction.
Here's my own two-pesewa contribution:
I recommend one such initiative to extend already existing upland evergreen rainforest hiking trails at Akyem Juaso - to a point where they could eventually be used for holding fitness championships: in which corporate management teams and keep-fit clubs with the most members finishing the course within a stipulated time, wins the event.
Perhaps one of Accra's many television and FM radio stations could take up the challenge of organising the voluntary work needed to complete such a project - as a CSR project?
Nestle and some of the telecoms companies could sponsor the championship and offer prize money and a championship silver cup.
The idea would be to help the Chief and people of a local fringe-forest cocoa-farming village, Akyem Juaso, partner the biggest landowners in the area, the P. E. Thompson Estate (ardent environmentalists who feel that a partnership with the local community is the most effective long-term conservation measure to protect their unique nature resource-reserve from illegal gold miners, hunters and loggers), to develop a community-based eco-tourism destination business - centred on their part of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest based on hiking.
Holding hiking competitions through a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), in one of the most beautiful places on the surface of the planet Earth, must be one of the most interesting ways of corporate team-bonding that also helps one keep fit - and a world of difference from jogging along busy roads in cities and towns with air-quality problems.
By doing some voluntary work at Akyem Juaso, they could help preserve one of the most beautiful rainforests in Ghana - working with the local community to develop a green business model that could be used to save other rainforests in Ghana threatened by illegal gold mining, hunting and logging.
My blurb for this social enterprise initiative:
Befriend An Upland Evergreen Rainforest - By Paying To Visit It!
* Volunteering opportunities to plant trees along streams and extend hiking trails!
* Support a local sustainable economic alternative to illegal gold mining; hunting; and illegal logging.
* Help save a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) by visiting it.
* Become a lifelong friend to one of the most beautiful places on the surface of the planet Earth.
* Spend quality time with Mother Nature - in the coolness of the high elevation of a unique upland evergreen rainforest.
* Test your physical endurance by hiking through trails in the cool fresh air and wondrous flora and fauna of the Atewa Range.
* Walk through an organic cocoa farm.
* Do some birdwatching.
* Get to know different species of trees and plants - including medicinal plants.
* Meet local cocoa-farming community members
* Support rural green micro-enterprises!!!
Get in touch with Marian on telephone number: 0244 514 824.