ENHANCING PARTICIPATORY PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT OF CAPE THREE POINTS KEY BIODIVERSITY AREA
The Cape Three Points Forest Reserve (CTPFR) is the only coastal forest in Ghana and among the few remaining coastal rainforest reserves in West Africa. Since 1999 the forest has been recognized as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) and an Important Bird Area (IBA) because of its exceptionally high level of biological diversity. Recent surveys conducted in the reserve recorded over 27 tree species; 17 species of medium and large mammals and 45 species of butterflies.
Despite this high biological diversity, the ecological integrity of the reserve, including the forest quality and extent is increasingly threatened by human activities. Farming along the fringes of the forest is reducing the size of the forest buffer. Illegal logging, illegal mining, charcoal production, and wildlife poaching are also on the rise within the forest and along its boundaries. Furthermore, land use conversion from forestry to perennial tree crops is accelerating deforestation and degradation of the peripheral areas of CTPFR resulting in replacement of natural forests by monoculture stands, primarily of rubber and oil palm. These pressures are mounting at a time when communities fringing the forest have no feeling of ownership of the forest but only perceive it as government owned. Yet, communities, mainly from the Ahanta and Nzema ethnicities have a strong stake in the forest reserve as they continue to depend on forest ecosystem goods and services for survival.
The most recent management plan (2007-2011) for the CTPFR supports a permanently protected forest management regime because of the high Genetic Heat Index (GHI) of the reserve as well as the uniqueness of its biological resources. Unfortunately, this management plan fails to acknowledge the ecological services provided by adjacent mangrove forests and coastal wetlands, especially as a refuge for migrating fauna from the forest reserve.
If nothing is done now, the CTPFR including adjoining coastal wetland and mangrove forests will experience further degradation resulting from mounting pressures of land use change to transform forested landscapes to areas for other land uses. Illegal logging and poaching will increase and the ecological integrity of the forest reserve and adjoining aquatic forests will be permanently altered. This will exacerbate poverty in forest-dependent communities and reinforce natural resource degradation. The coastal mangrove forest in peripheral areas will be lost with its attendant functions as a refuge for fauna migrating from the forest reserve.
Under the management of Birdlife International, with funding from Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot Programme, Hen Mpoano has been awarded a grant to implement a 2- year (27 months) project to strengthen existing CREMA structures to work together with key stakeholders for effective management of the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve and adjoining coastal wetlands and mangrove ecosystems. The project, titled “Enhancing Participatory Planning and Management of Cape Three Points Key Biodiversity Area” is aimed at building capacity at the community and district levels to protect the integrity of the Cape Three Points Key Biodiversity Area.
The project will achieve this by strengthening the Cape Three Points Princes Town CREMA to engage with other stakeholders in the peripheral communities of the Cape Three Points GSBA to prepare and implement a participatory management plan for mangrove forests and wetland ecosystems at the peripheral areas of Cape Three Points GSBA while providing income-generating opportunities as a support for livelihood improvement and an incentive for CREMA establishment.