Biodiversity Conservation and Community Ecotourism Development of the Tafi Atome Wildlife Sanctuary
For the Tafi Atome community in the Volta Region, the Mona monkeys (Cercopithecus mona) are
sacred creatures. They have protected them and their habitats for over 200 years. But when Christianity was introduced, those traditional beliefs became eroded, as did protection of the monkeys. To address this concern, FoE-Ghana, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP), worked with the traditional authorities of Tafi Atome, Tafi Mador, Tafi Abuife and Vakpo-Fu to support ecotourism in the communities and reinforce protection of the monkeys as well as their habitat and the local biodiversity.
- The 49ha sanctuary was demarcated with concrete pillars and link-traversed to a survey pillar in Kpando to integrate the area into the national grid for local mapping. A land plan was produced of the sanctuary, and recognised by the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines
- Buffer zones around the sanctuary were developed and agroforestry and organise farming encouraged as a means of protecting and enhancing biodiversity within and around the sanctuary
- A firebreak was created around the sanctuary and maintained by community volunteers
- Women, men and youth from the communities were trained in organic farming and other livelihood activities such as bee keeping and grasscutter and goat rearing. Some were trained as trainers, so they could train others in their communities. Rearing grasscutters aims to reduce bushfires in the forest because hunters would no longer need to set fires to drive out the grasscutters.
- Environmental awareness raising in the local schools and communities to encourage community-based environmental monitoring and management. The awareness included emphasis on protecting the trees from illegal tree felling and illegal chainsaw use
- Four tree nurseries with about 17,000 tree seedlings were established on the school lands and communities planted and tended seedlings in their villages
- Traditional bye-laws were drafted and adopted. These protect the River Ahavor from pollution and also forbid certain activities within the core area of the sanctuary:
- Collecting fuelwood
- Collecting medicinal plants, roots, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds
- Livestock grazing
- The anti-bushfire volunteer groups are actively and successfully protecting the Monkey Sanctuary and the adjacent farmlands and village buildings against damage from bushfires
- People trained in new livelihood activities are benefiting from their news skills, which are gaining them an income and also benefiting local communities with the products they make available
- Ecotourism is bringing in revenues to the communities from entrance fees, accommodation, craft sales and fees for tour guides. The number of visitors has steadily increased as a result of improved protection of the sanctuary and increased chances of seeing the Mona monkeys.