This is the fourth story on Tourism in the Metropolis concerning the Butuah Wetland and Monkey Hill.
This story captures the role of Friends of the Nation.
Donkris Mevuta serves as the Executive Director of Friends of the Nation (FoN), an NGO located in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, which focuses on socio-environmental issues.
In the early 2000s, the New Takoradi community sought to claim ownership of the Monkey Hill forest reserve, assuming it belonged to them due to neglect by the Forestry Commission.
This prompted FoN to engage with the community, including figures like Chief Mensah and the late Dadzie, to emphasize the potential economic benefits of conserving the hill for eco-tourism.
FoN advocated for cleanup efforts, initiated activities like canoe regattas and ladies' football, and received development funds to begin fencing Monkey Hill to prevent encroachment and monkey poaching.
Within that period, the Metropolitan Authority also declared the area an eco-tourism zone.
They collaborated with stakeholders like the Forestry Commission, EPA, STMA, and more to formulate a Participatory Strategic Management Plan (PSMP) for the hill.
FoN also conducted a bio-census led by some lecturers from the University of Ghana on the monkey population, determined their regeneration rate (which was 85%), and identified three near-extinct monkey species.
FoN, also did some Wetland assessments covering the Whin, the Essei Lagoon, and the Butuah to also determine the flora and fauna there.
Their attention then turned to Butuah Wetland, threatened by a proposal for a tank farm and encroachment.
FoN's efforts aimed to preserve the wetland's role in flood control and carbon sequestration.
Recognizing the interconnectedness of biodiversity conservation and climate resilience, FoN together with other stakeholders envisioned a Nature Park encompassing both areas, promoting non-destructive development that prioritizes climate-smart infrastructure.
Two potential investors, Friends of the Nation plus Oxygen Environmental Group, and Trinity Park have presented proposals to the Working Group.
FoN's initial strategy involves creating a forum for stakeholders to invest in products aligned with corporate social responsibility and climate solutions, expanding beyond for-profit investors to encompass contributions from banks, insurance companies, and others.
The ultimate goal is to create a hub for sustainable tourism, job creation, and revenue generation within the Metropolis.
FoN acknowledges its role as a gatekeeper and partner in these efforts, having invested time and resources (about $120,000) in monitoring, protection, research, and tree planting since 2002. The organization emphasizes balancing conservation and climate action to combat the ongoing climate crisis.
NOTE: FoN's land rights initiation to determine the ownership of the Nature park is being handled by the Western Regional Minister.