Ghana’s Lake Bosomtwe, the largest natural lake in West Africa, has been labelled a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, a status given to ecosystems with plants and animals of unusual scientific and natural interest.
With the new status, UNESCO will help protect and promote its management, as well as use it for research promotion and provision of models for sustainable development.
It gained the status after series of research by UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) in March 2016. It becomes one of 669 sites in 120 countries.
Currently, Ghana has tabled a proposal before UNESCO to consider listing the Lake and the Mole National Park as one of the World Heritage sites.
The only natural lake in Ghana, Lake Bosomtwe, is now the country’s third biosphere reserve after Bia biosphere reserve in the Western Region and the Songor biosphere reserve at Ada in the
Greater Accra Region.A durbar has been held at the lakeside to officially outdoor it as UNESCO’s youngest biosphere reserve and to formally hand over certificate of enlistment to the local government and traditional authorities.
Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who also chairs the African Network of Biosphere Reserves, John Pwamang, stressed underscored the need to preserve Ghana’s natural resources.
“The biological resources in the lake and its environs needs to be preserve and we all have a task to develop and maintain Lake Bosomtwe as a model for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals sustainable development in the world Network through the observation of the zonation as prescribed in the CREMA byelaws for Lake Bosomtwe (2014)”.
Mr Pwamang indicated that the outdooring of Lake Bosomtwe as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve signifies not only the ecological, economic and cultural value of the area to humankind, but also underscores the fact that the efforts of local stakeholders and the contribution of indigenous structures in participatory management of natural resources are recognized in other parts of the country and the world, and need to be sustained.
A representative of UNESCO, Tirso Dos Santos, called on communities around the lake and stakeholders to work towards ensuring the new status of the lake is beneficial to all.
Mr Dos Santos noted the attainment of the Lake as a Biosphere Reserve includes promoting alternative source of livelihood and also building the capacity of the locals to enable them take up those livelihood activities.
Loss of natural resources
Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mahama Ayariga, in a speech read on his behalf raised concerns about the extensive loss of natural resources in the country.
“Over the years, the integrity of the Lake has suffered due to human activities. Excessive fishing has led to a decline in fish catches. Poor farming practices along the hills have also led to erosion in the catchment area and sedimentation in the lake. The lake was also been polluted by poorly treated human waste and by domestic discharges.
“With its new designation as a Biosphere Reserve I wish to call on all stakeholders to collaborate effectively to help secure the future of the Lake for our future generation. The CREMA will also need the support of all the communities surrounding the Lake, especially support from our Chiefs,” he said.
He lauded the effort by UNESCO to protect and conserve Lake Bosomtwe.
The UNESCO certificate of enlistment of Lake Bosomtwe into the World Network of Biosphere Reserves was received by Adontenhene Nana Adu Gyamfi, who also handed it over to the District Chief Executives of Bosomtwe and Bosome Freho, and the Water Resources Commission.
By Ibrahim Abubakar|TV3|3news.com|Ghana