Previous conservation effortsThe key threats to the conservation of biodiversity in the area are the breaking down of traditional approaches to resource management (such as the local taboos) and the spread of the giant aquatic grass Vossia cuspidata resulting from eutrophication of the waters, which affects fish productivity. On the coast, consumption of sea turtle eggs by local inhabitants is a key threat. Other activities that are theoretically controlled by the existing by-laws but do occasionally occur are slash and burn agriculture, grassland burning for pasture, logging for fuel wood, and hunting. The Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS) in partnership with the Western Nzema Traditional Council (WNTC) has been implementing since 2000 the Amansuri Conservation and Integrated Development (ACID) Project. The aim of the project is a conserved wetland system where ecological functions and scenic beauty are maintained, while low impact resource uses by local people are practiced. This concept advocated is in line with Ghana’s forest and wildlife policy that seeks to involve local people in the conservation and management of wildlife resources.The main focus of the ACID project has been the development of ecotourism. Indeed, the Amansuri wetland showcases nowdays an exemplary ecotourims programme, whereby local communities are directly involved and are the main beneficiaries of the revenues derived from the programme. During the first years of ACID, the ecotourism programme evolved around visits to the Nzulezo stilt village (the only of its kind in Ghana); nowadays however, there are ongoing efforts to diversify the ecotourism products offered to visitors. An extensive public awareness campaign has been ongoing, in order to increase people’s awareness on the importance of the site. A third component of ACID has been the Small Enterprise Development and Support Fund, which has provided microcredit to a total of 115 beneficiaries in 6 communities. Microsfere will enhance this last component of the ACID project, in collaboration with GWS.
The key economic activities in the Amansuri area are fishing, both in the wetland and at sea, local gin production (apeteshie), coconut processing, small-scale farming of crops such as coconut, oil palm, cassava, maize, cocoa and plantain, fish smoking, and small-scale trade. The freshwater fishery is particularly productive due to habitat heterogeneity. In addition, local cultural taboos that limit the time of fishing, the gear used as well as fishing areas have significantly contributed to the control of overexploitation of the fish resources in the wetland. Given that the wetland is a community protected area, the aforementioned activities are allowed within the protected area, though under limitations as imposed by the agreed by-laws.
Bibliographical note: parts of the aforementioned information have been derived from the Amansuri Wetland Ecosystem Management Plan, GWS, 2003.