In 1888, the colonial government of the Gold Coast sent sample wood from the colony to England for tests on their working properties as industrial and construction timber.
Following the favourable results from the tests, the government exported 3,360 cubic metres of Mahogany in 1881 and 84,900 cubic metres in 1913. Since those times, the development and management of Ghana’s forest resource base have focused on forest conservation, plantation development and timber exports, much to the near-neglect of wildlife management for eco-tourism development.
Although the Forest and Wildlife Development Master Plan, crafted more than a decade-and-half ago, attempts to seek equitable attention for the wildlife sector, that quest has not been vigorously pursued, resulting in the continual over-dependence on plantations, natural forests and timber exports for revenue generation from the forestry sector. It is, largely to address this imbalance and tap the resource generation potential of the wildlife sector, especially, in eco-tourism, that the Forestry Commission will transform the Achimota Forest into an ecological enclave – the Achimota Eco-tourism Project.
Achimota Forest In Perspective
The Achimota Forest (AF) was gazetted in July 1930 to create a green buffer between the Achimota School and the city of Accra and to provide cheap fuel for the School. Those initial objectives changed with time to the provision of Nature Reserve, Recreation Park and Nature Study Facilities for children, students and researchers. The Forest is three-hundred and sixty (360) hectares with an arboretum, a zoo and spiritual retreat enclaves, which are privately sponsored.
Presently, as an eco-tourism centre, the Achimota Forest attracts twenty thousand visitors and generates US$60,000 annually. These statistics compare oddly to those of the Nairobi National Park (NNP) in Kenya, which attracts ninety-six thousand (96,000) visitors and generates US$8 million, annually although the two have some comparable characteristics. Both are ‘Big City Parks with easy access for potential visitors; both are subject to increasing encroachment pressures and both are state-owned.
However, the NNP is 117 kilometers with 400 recorded fauna species as compared to the Achimota Forest, which has 3.6 kilometers and few species, which hardly generate any keen interest among tourists. Indeed the NNP is well developed, in terms of infrastructure, fauna holding and its diversity, government commitment and civil society involvement. It is, therefore, imperatively apt that the FC adopts, adapts and replicate some basics in the success story of the NNP for the Achimota Eco-Tourism Park.