GHANA

New Protection for West Africa’s Imperiled Wildlife

Project Cost: $207,900

Funding Raised: $207,900

$3.26 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

2X The Impact

The Atewa Mountain Range contains one of Ghana’s most biodiverse natural systems and provides critical habitat for many threatened species. These mountains, however, lack real protection and are vulnerable to logging and mining threats. Rainforest Trust is collaborating with a local partner to create a 63,840-acre national park before time runs out and Atewa’s remaining forests are destroyed.

West Africa’s Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem is home to a quarter of Africa’s mammals and contains an estimated 9,000 vascular plant species, 20% of which are thought to be endemic. Eighty-five percent of this biodiversity hotspot, however, has already been lost to deforestation, making it one of the most fragmented environments on earth.

One of the last intact areas of the Upper Guinean Forest is found in Ghana’s Atewa Range, which contains three quarters of all remaining upland rainforest in the West African nation. As the headwater for three major rivers, the range is also a vital water source for millions of Ghanaians, including more than half of the inhabitants in Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

Destructive human activities, however, place ever-mounting pressures on the ecosystem and cast doubt on its future health. To ensure its preservation, Rainforest Trust is working with local partner, Ghana Wildlife Society, to transform the poorly protected Atewa Forest Reserve into a well-managed 63,840-acre national park. Doing so will avert environmental disaster and provide a long-term future for the range’s rich and endangered wildlife.

Fast Facts

Location
Ghana

Size
63,840 acres

Key Species
Geoffroy’s Pied Colobus (DD), Olive Colobus (NT), Togo Slippery Frog (CR), Bobiri Reed Frog (EN), Nimba Flycatcher (VU) and Brown-cheeked Hornbill (VU)

Habitat
Upland rainforest

Threats
Commercial and illegal mining, deforestation due to agriculture, bush meat hunting, illegal logging

Action
Support creation of 63,840-acre Atewa Range National Park

Local Partner
Ghana Wildlife Society

Financial Need
$207,900

Price Per Acre
$3.26

Biodiversity

Although relatively small in size, the biologically diverse rainforests of the Atewa Range hold worldwide conservation importance. In recognition of this fact, the Ghana Forest Commission declared the Atewa Forest Reserve a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area in 1999.

Two years later, Birdlife International designated the area as an Important Bird Area (IBA) due to the presence of six bird species of global conservation concern. Among others, threatened bird species found in the Atewa Range include the Brown-cheeked Hornbill and Nimba Flycatcher. Atewa’s rainforests are also rich in mammal life and are home to 37 mammal species, including six primate species. Geoffroy’s Pied Colobus, one of the most threatened primates found in the area, has suffered a 30% population decline in the last 30 years due to poaching and habitat loss. Atewa’s rainforests also provide critical shelter for one of the world’s most threatened amphibians. What may be the last viable population of the critically endangered Togo Slippery Frog, is also found in the area. In addition to the Togo Slippery Frog, the range provides refuge for two other endangered frog species, Hyperolius bobirensis and Phrynobatrachus ghanens.

Challenges

The Atewa Range faces a variety of serious challenges that threaten the future of both its wildlife and ecological integrity.

The range contains bauxite (aluminum) deposits and commercial mining companies have been granted prospecting licenses for its potential exploitation. Small-scale illegal gold mining outfits are also prevalent around the range. Their operations have scarred the landscape with mining pits and led to the contamination of local waters sources. Poaching and bush meat hunting are major problems in the Atewa Range. An estimated 15% of bush meat found in the city markets of Accra and Kumasi originates in the range. With lower slopes of the range no longer providing viable farmland, farmers are increasingly moving into higher elevation areas. This puts additional pressure on core portions of the Atewa Range that have been spared resource extraction in the past.

Communities

The Atewa Range lies within the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area and is surrounded by more than 40 communities. Principal economic activities in these settlements include agriculture and the small-scale collection of non-timber forest products.

Among these communities there is much support for creation of a protected area. Many residents are adamantly opposed to the destruction of forests in the Atewa Range, which they see as a benefit to their livelihoods and quality of life. In response to public concern, local leaders have established an environmental foundation to further conservation efforts in the Atewa Range. There are now initiatives to provide alternative livelihoods, offer ecotourism training and expand conservation education.

Solutions

Current protection offered by the Atewa Forest Reserve is inadequate to slow or stop threats facing wildlife in the Atewa Range. Working with local partner Ghana Wildlife Society, Rainforest Trust will help legally establish a 63,840-acre national park that will provide effective protection for the first time to the Atewa Range.

To ensure the long-term protection of the Atewa Range, the Ghana Wildlife Society will help steward the legal process required for national park designation; complete feasibility studies for sustainable financing options, including REDD+, watershed protection, and ecotourism; conduct field surveys to facilitate robust management planning; and establish and implement a long-term park management plan. These efforts are supported by a consortium of interested partners including local communities, national and international NGO’s, foreign governments, as well as the Ghanaian government.