NCRC is working to develop a network of community-based destinations that link tourism development with environmental, historic, and cultural conservation. NCRC also supports development of locally-controlled protected. NCRC is a partner in Community Based Ecotourism Projects (CBEP). These projects combine the efforts of the community, United States Peace Corps, Nature Conservation Research Centre, Ghana Tourist Board and recently SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, with funding from USAID.
The goal is to create sustainable income-generating ventures benefiting the community, and conserving local wildlife, environment and culture. A Tourism Management Team comprised of local community members directs the project at ground level, with advice from a United States Peace Corps volunteer stationed at the rural village. Development activities are dependent on community input, local workmanship, and communal labour. All revenue collected from the tourism project is managed by and for the village. Electricity, adequate drinking water facilities and a new school are just a few of communities’ stated goals for the future.
NCRC prioritises areas for community-owned conservation initiatives on biological, sociological and economic criteria. NCRC then pursues passage of local district by-laws to reinforce conservation area establishment. NCRC assists with sanctuary planning, documentation and demarcation, management board formation, training, and even indigeneous tree re-forestation. Lastly, NCRC promotes CBEP sites as field research and ecotourism destinations in print and, since 1998, through The Ghana Ecotourism Website.
Examples of Natural Conservation
Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary
The Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is a culturally protected sacred grove with a resident population of True Mona monkeys (Cercopithecus mona mona) that enjoy a local taboo banning anyone from harming them.
This True Mona population, numbering approximately 150 individuals, is the only intact population of this sub-species remaining in Ghana today. NCRC began working with the local village in establishing a community sanctuary in 1995, when the monkey population had fallen to only 50 individuals.
Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
The Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary is a chain of culturally protected sacred groves with resident populations of 200 Geoffroy’s Pied Colobus (Colobus vellerosus) and 500 Campbell’s Mona monkeys (Cercopithecus mona campbelli).
The monkeys enjoy a local taboo banning anyone from harming them, and are the best examples of indigenous conservation in Ghana today. NCRC began helping the local communities and the sanctuary management board strengthen their community sanctuary in 1996.
Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary
The Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary protects a 35-kilometre stretch of threatened hippo and avian habitat on the Black Volta River. The sanctuary was initiated by the Paramount Chief of Wechiau Traditional Area. NCRC has been working since 1997 with the local communities, Wildlife Department and Ghana Tourist Board on this initiative. The Calgary Zoological Society and Earthwatch Institute have also supported this project.
Examples of Cultural Conservation
Globally, preservation of diverse cultures is as important as protection of diverse ecosystems, and the two often go hand-in-hand. For example, the protection offered the sacred monkeys at Boabeng-Fiema was for a long time simply culturally based. NCRC’s projects address cultural survival in many ways.
UNESCO/NCRC Traditional Bead Project
NCRC started Phase II of this bead production and marketing project in 2003. The Phase II report documents field research into traditional bead-making processes and markets. It also records strategies developed to empower stakeholders to improve working environments and tools, and develop markets while retaining the traditional processes and hand-made appeal of Ghana’s and Mali’s beads.
Kente Cloth UNESCO Proposal
NCRC proposed kente cloth, a well-known and ancient form of Ghanaian cultural expression, as Ghana’s candidate for UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for 2003. The report proposed research, preservation, and education on the production, customs, and meaning kente’s more than 500 designs.
Kente production is complex, and the product is a very beautiful cloth that is often a valued family heirloom. It is widely considered a powerful cultural symbol and a source of cultural pride, both for Ghanaians and the African diaspora. The cloth is worn and used by royals, in worship, and for birth, marriage, and death ceremonies.
Today, kente designs continue to chronicle local history and knowledge, and communicate values. Designs have specific names and important, sometimes proverbial meanings that reflect cultural values and historical events.
Slavery Route Project
Many of Ghana’s Community Based Ecotourism Project sites, especially in the Ghana’s North, are sites with important slave trade history. History lives on in part through the surviving physical traces, which need cultural protection. Sites were used as rest stops during the long marches to the southern forts, or as slave markets. Some villages have walls, hiding spots, or architectural devices as defences against slave-raiders. NCRC is acting to preserve these relics of slavery for study and as reminders of the inhumanity of this period of human history.