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Regional News of Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Ashanti African Tours builds school for communities

Ashanti African Tours also initiated moves to construct a reception centre

Ashanti African Travel and Tours has made one of the most critical interventions in protecting forest reserves in some parts of the country.

The Tourism organization has put up an 8 unit classroom block for the people of Bonkro in the New Edubiase District of the Ashanti Region to stop them from felling trees from the forest that has many engendered animal species.

According to the NGO, Ghana should protect its forest reserves and save many of the species of animals that are rarely seen across the world in order to boost the country's tourism industry.

Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the school building to the Bonkro and its surrounding communities, CEO of the Ashanti African Travel and Tours, Mark Williams, says Ghana serves as an ideal destination for many tourists from across the world because of the numerous National Parks coupled with their dazzling array of wildlife and thus must be protected.

The Travel and Tour company that focuses primarily on seeing the exceptional diversity of wildlife that occurs in Ghana bargained with the communities to cease the chain saw operations in the forest and the wanton destruction of rivers and water bodies in the Bonkro Community in exchange for a school building and other facilities that are crucial to the development of the communities.

"The destruction to the forest reserve here has led to the extinction of many species of animals including many bird species. We needed to do something to save the situation. We needed to do something to help the community stop the wanton destruction of the forest, the consequences which will destroy many animal species," he averred.

Mark Williams says an understanding was reached between the company and the communities upon which the community demanded a school be built for them in order to leave the forest intact.

"We put it before them, they agreed to stop felling the trees. Initially, it wasn't easy but they understood to put their community and Ghana first rather than the selfish parochial interest," he said.

The NGO has also been embarking on Picathartes Education and Conservation for Knowledge Fund which aims to support the three communities which surround a small area of Upper Guinea Rainforest protecting endangered bird and mammal species, including the Long-tailed Pangoline and at least 24 nesting sites for an endangered bird species, the Yellow-headed Picathartes.



"Ultimately we hope that by showing our commitment to the communities through ethical travel and eco-tourism, enabling them to see the immediate benefits of conserving the habitat, they will help us stop the illegal logging and hunting activities by locals who come from or pass through their communities," he indicated.

Ashanti African Tours has also initiated moves to construct a reception centre and accommodation facilities in the communities to welcome tourists to the communities at a fee.

The funds realized, according to the NGO would be used to support the development of the community.

Ashanti African Tours also called on government to make the Atiwa Forest a National Park since it will serve as a premiere destination of tourism in the country because of its huge tourism potentials.

"The Atiwa forest is Ghana's premiere destination. It has many bird species and will serve as a great place for tourism if it is established as a national park," he assured.

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