The Atiwa Forest Reserve, and other 16 sites have been penned as future nominations into the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Biosphere Reserves are specially protected areas where diverse plants and animals exist with some level of human activity to conserve biodiversity and sustainable development.
These sites serve as referral systems for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems and are an effective instrument for mitigating climate change and serve as models for adaptation to the impacts of this change.
They include Shai Hills Reserve, the Kakum, Mole, Digya, and Bui national parks, and Gbele Resources Reserve.
The Tano-Offin Range, Apedwa Hills, Kwahu Scarp, Kyaboo Transboundary Reserve, and Mount Afadzato and Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary are also part of the sites.
Professor Dennis Aheto, the subcommittee chair of the National Committee of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) said this at the launch of a 47-page handbook on Biosphere Reserve concept at Sege in the Ada West District.
It was designed by the National Committee of the UNESCO MAB hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC); Forestry Commission, academia, and some district assemblies.
The manual is seeking to make biosphere issues a normal component in Ghana’s development planning and budgeting process at all levels as the basis for sustainable financing of its activities.
He said out of the network of 727 reserves in 131countries, Ghana was hosting three, comprising Bia Biosphere Reserve, the largest, located in the Western Region, Songor Ramsar Site in Greater Accra, and Lake Bosomtwe Biosphere Reserve in Ashanti.
Touching on the handbook, Prof. Aheto explained that its development, which started in 2018 in line with the Ghana Action plan (2018- 2025) for the MAB programme, was a requirement of the network of world biosphere reserves network as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The mainstreaming activities in the book, he said, included stakeholder engagements; communication and information sharing; capacity building, and conscious allocation of funds for biosphere related activities.
Madam Ama Nerquaye-Tetteh, the Secretary-General for the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, commended Ghana for its tree planting exercise; support for global environmental initiatives, and the development of the manual and urged the country to do more to protect its reserves.
Dr Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa, the Director-General of the NDPC, said the effective way of implementing national policies was through integration into all levels of planning.
He urged all districts to take the handbook seriously and urged stakeholders to monitor and ensure its content was implemented.
On behalf of the EPA, the Ghana MAB coordinator, Sheila Ashong, expressed the hope that the strong stakeholder engagement held over the period would propel the implementation of the activities outlined in the document for collective gains.