Ghana has identified 17 areas for future nomination to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO).
Biosphere reserves are specially protected areas where various plants and animals with a certain level of human activity exist in order to preserve biodiversity and sustainable development and also to serve as reference systems for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems.
Of the 727 reserves in 131 countries, Ghana is currently home to three, including the Bia Biosphere Reserve, the largest in the Western Region (since 1983); Songor Ramsar Site in Greater Accra (2011) and Lake Bosomtwe Biosphere Reserve in Ashanti (2016).
Potential locations include Nzulezu Wetland; Jachie Sacred Grove; Holy Groove from Mpirisi; Boateng-Fiema monkey sanctuary; Atiwa Forest Reserve; Shai Hill Reserve; the national parks of Kakum, Mole, Digya and Bui; Gbele Resource Reserve; Tano Ofei series; Apedwa Hill; Kwahu escarpment; Kyaboo Transboundary Reserve and Mount Afadzato and Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary.
This became known during the presentation of a manual for integrating the biosphere reserve concept into development planning on Tuesday in Sege in the Ada West district.
The 47-page manual aims to make biosphere topics a natural part of national development planning and budgeting at all levels as the basis for sustainable financing of its activities.
It was designed by the National Committee of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB), hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC); Forestry Commission, Science and some district assemblies.
In a presentation, the Chair of the MAB Subcommittee, Prof. Dennis Aheto, said that the development of the manual started in 2018 in accordance with the Ghana Action Plan (2018-2025) for the MAB program, a requirement of the network of the network the global biosphere reserves and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The mainstreaming activities in the book, he said, included stakeholder engagement; Communication and information exchange; Capacity building and conscious allocation of funds for biosphere-related activities.
“Biosphere reserves are models for sustainable development and research laboratories for the containment and introduction of climate change. They are also tools for achieving all of the SDGs and we need to work to protect them, ”he said.
The Secretary General of the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, Ama Nerquaye-Tetteh, praised Ghana for its tree-planting campaign; Supported global environmental initiatives and the development of the handbook, and urged the country to do more to protect its reserves.
The Director General of the NDPC, Dr. Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa said the effective way to implement national policy is to integrate it at all levels of planning.
Describing the biosphere as critical to the country’s sustainable development, he urged all districts to take the manual seriously and called on stakeholders to monitor and ensure its implementation.
On behalf of the EPA, Ghanaian MAB coordinator Sheila Ashong expressed the hope that the strong engagement of stakeholders during the period would fuel the implementation of the activities described in the document for mutual benefit.
District Chief Executive, SampsonKpankpah, pledged to ensure that the congregation, which houses the second largest biosphere reserve in the country, implements all policies and strategies.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR, SEGE (ADA WEST)