GHANA

Expanding the Onepone Refuge for Amphibians in Ghana

Project Cost: $339,596

Funding Raised: $78,088

$257.46 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)
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Ghana’s Togo-Volta highlands harbor some of the last remaining forests in the Dahomey Gap, a savannah corridor separating the upper and lower Guinea forest. These remnant highland forests are home to many species isolated from the more expansive rainforests to the west and east. Hence, this forest is a priority conservation site.

The area is home to both threatened and endemic species, including the Critically Endangered Hooded Vulture. In addition, the last viable population of the Critically Endangered Togo Slippery Frog is found here. But expanding human settlements, unsustainable farming and hunting threaten this forest habitat. For this unique ecosystem to survive, protection is critical.
Rainforest Trust and local partner Herp Conservation Ghana seek $339,596 to protect, restore and manage 1,319 acres of the Togo-Volta highlands. This project will expand the 847-acre Onepone Endangered Species Refuge while improving the livelihoods of communities dependent on this mountainous forest ecosystem.

Photo: The Critically Endangered Togo Slippery Frog. Photo by Caleb Ofori-Boateng.

Fast Facts

Location:
Togo-Volta highlands, Ghana

Size:
1,319 Acres

Price per Acre:
$257.46

Key Species (Based on IUCN Red List):
Togo Slippery Frog (CR), Hooded Vulture (CR), Ukami Reed Frog (EN), Boxiana Cola (EN), Ivory Coast Frog (EN), White-bellied Pangolin (V)

Habitat:
Savannah, mountain forest

Threats:
Hunting pressure, deforestation

Action:
Expand the Onepone Endangered Species Refuge

Local Partner:
Herp Conservation Ghana

Financial Need:
$339,596

Biodiversity

At least 222 species of plants, 152 birds, 24 mammals, 20 amphibians and 76 butterflies live in this small, biodiversity-rich forest.

Threatened species native to the area include the Togo Slippery Frog (CR), Hooded Vulture (CR), Ivory Coast Frog (EN) and the endemic Ukami Reed Frog (EN), along with many endangered plants.

Photo: The Critically Endangered Hooded Vulture. Photo by Michael Jansen.

Challenges

Habitat loss is one of the primary threats to the unique biodiversity of the Togo-Volta hills. Most forest loss stems from agriculture, logging and expanding settlements.

The landscape is mountainous and rocky, making suitable farming land rare. In addition, local farming practices do not guarantee sustained crop yields. Hence, demand for land is on the rise and threatens the survival of the forest ecosystem. This beautiful, mountainous landscape also attracts wealthy individuals from the cities interested in buying land for commercial enterprises, such as hotels. In similar adjoining sites in the Republic of Togo, human settlements have already surrounded entire forest habitats (Hillers et al., 2009). A plan to restrict development from inching closer to key biodiversity sites is crucial to protect endemic species in the area. Hunting also threatens the long-term stability of many endangered species in and around the project area. Traditional hunting tribes are widespread in the area and threaten the future of Ghanaian wildlife if conservation education and alternative livelihood activities are not encouraged in the local population.

Photo: Expanding settlements in the Togo-Volta highlands. Photo by Michael Akrosi.

Communities

Four out of the seven communities of the Avatime tribe in Ghana’s Volta Region (Amedzofe, Gbajemeh, Kpedzi, and Dzolokope) surround the proposed protected area.

In these communities, agriculture is the dominant economic activity. But high rainfall and the region’s soil type leave farmland with a lack of essential nutrients. For a good yield, farmers must abandon fields and leave them fallow after every two cropping seasons. Since farmers often need new land, this practice leads to clearing more pristine forests. Ecotourism is increasing in popularity in communities around the proposed protected area. Tourists come to the region to see the scenic mountains, waterfalls and strong cultural traditions. And thanks to a growing middle class in Ghana, the domestic tourism industry is booming. Although far from reaching its full potential, ecotourism promises to become a major income source in the area. Due to that, communities are looking towards ecotourism to improve their livelihoods. But ecotourism thrives on land preservation and sustainable use. Hence, ecotourism offers an incentive for communities manage landscapes and conserve biodiversity.

Photo: Taking a break during fieldwork. Photo by Herp Conservation Ghana.

Solutions

The project will protect 1,319 acres of some of the last remaining forest in the Togo-Volta highlands.

This community-based protected area will prevent further loss of critical wildlife habitat. Community governance structures will enhance local capacity to manage wildlife and reduce hunting. Plans include efforts to restore degraded forest habitats in ecologically sensitive areas. This will provide perpetual benefits to communities and enhance habitat quality for species dependent on upland, moist, semi-deciduous forest. Additionally, the project will develop opportunities to increase local tourism to sustain conservation and improve livelihoods. (photo: Discovering the Togo Slippery Frog. Photo by Herp Conservation Ghana. )