Friday, December 16, 2016

UNESCO, GIPC rally investment for conservation sector

By Edmund Mingle
Nii Osa Mills being assisted by Mrs Svanikier
to cut the tape to open the exhibition
A two-week National Exhibition on Nature Conservation in Ghana has been opened in Accra with a call for private sector investments to promote the tourism potentials in the sector.

Increased investment in conservation and development of the natural environment, particularly, forest reserves, mountains, water bodies and their flora and fauna, it is believed would help to promote tourism that would generate high revenue.

The two-week photo exhibition showcases a collection of images that projects the amazing terrain, endangered plant and animal species from the Mole National Park, Akwamu Gorge and Lake Bosomtwe, three of Ghana’s famous, yet less explored conservation and tourism sites.

Mounted through a joint initiative by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and UNESCO Ghana office in France, and hosted by the Accra City Hotel, the national exhibition is aimed at revamping public and private sector interest in the development of the sector, as well as projecting the economic potentials in conservation.
Mrs Svanikier delivering her address

Mr. Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, Ghana’s permanent Delegate to UNESCO and Ambassador to France, who called for increased investment, said there was a need to properly conserve such natural sites to attract more domestic and international tourists.

She announced that the Mole National Park is expected to be designated as a World Heritage Site in July 2017, explaining that an evaluation team from UNESCO has already visited the Park for an assessment, and would present its report in July.

Also, she said Lake Bosomtwe has been listed as a World Biosphere Reserve, while efforts were being made to get the Akwamu Gorge to be listed as a world heritage site.

The listings, she said, would project Ghana’s tourism prospects and attract huge investments into the tourism sector.

According to her, the country could attract more investors and tourists by instituting measure to provide the necessary supporting facilities such as effective transportation, roads, rest centres, and information and communication systems in and around tourist sites.
Mrs Svanikier (left) and Nii Mills (middle) being conducted around the exhibition by Rev  Kpelle
Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who cut the tape to open the exhibition, said efforts continued to be made by the government to protect wild life and forests, and cited the introduction of the new Policy on Wildlife Conservation as indicative government’s commitment.

In addition, he explained that Accra Eco-Park, an ecotourism infrastructure development which has the potential to make the city of Accra a major tourism destination in the West Africa, is underway at the Achimota Forest Reserve.

Also, he said, the Akwamu Gorge is among areas that were being considered for intensified investment to promote their economic potentials for the locals.

Mrs. Mawuena Trebarh, Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, for her part, noted that such investments could help in poverty reduction in the host communities since increase tourism activity would boost the local economy.

The exhibition project was launched at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris by President Mahama during his recent visit to France, as part of measures to attract foreign investors into the sector.

Rev George Guba Kpelle, Director of Operations at the Forestry Commission(Wildlife Division) commended UNESCO and GIPC for the initiative, saying there was a need for vibrant stakeholder engagement in the conservation and protection of nation’s natural resources which are been adversely affected due to expanding human settlement.

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