As part of activities of the GEF/FAO funded Trans-boundary project between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, a Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting was organized in the Western Region of Ghana. The purpose of the meeting was to update project partners from both countries on progress of work and explore opportunities for greater collaboration in the joint protection of elephants within the Bia-Diambarakro corridor.
The meeting brought together 13 participants from 6 key partner institutions from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Institutions represented included; Societe de Developpement des Forets (SODEFOR) of Cote d’Ivoire, Wildlife Division-Ghana, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) from both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Focal point from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, Conservation Alliance Ghana.
In their opening statement, the GEF Focal Points and the FAO Representatives expressed satisfaction about the significant improvement of the ecological health of the corridor and the commitment of fringe communities towards sustainable use of natural resources. In particular, the FAO Representative, Dr. Atse Yapi indicated that, ‘if Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire can collaborate on the project as we are currently doing, then it means we are ahead of the continent in terms of biodiversity conservation’.
The representative from SODEFOR (the state institution responsible for forest resources in Cote d’Ivoire), expressed his institution’s commitment to undertake large scale restoration of the Diambarakro classified forest to consolidate the efforts being made on the Ghanaian side of the corridor. This activity is to ensure the security of elephants that move from Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire and vice versa. Dr. Moses Sam, the Central and Western Regional Manager of Wildlife Division, who represented the Executive Director of Wildlife Division expressed gratitude over the support given to the four CREMAs on the Ghanaian side of the corridor. He reaffirmed the commitment of the Forestry Commission particularly, the Wildlife Division to protect elephants within the Bia Conservation Area of Ghana.
In an interview, the International Project Coordinator, Ms. Abigail Frimpong was happy to note the commitment of both countries in the development of a common management plan for the Ghana – Cote d’Ivoire elephant corridor. She appealed for the integration of the management plan of the corridor into the Medium Term Development Plan of the District and the Local Government Development Plan in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire respectively to facilitate ease of implementation. The International Expert on Protected Area Management agreed that the Management Plan is a novelty and is consistent with international conservation best practices. At the closing session, the Country Director of Conservation Alliance, Dr. Yaw Osei-Owusu appealed to both countries for greater support of the project to help establish a viable and sustainable trans-frontier conservation corridor that will link forest reserves and protected areas in and around Bia and Diambarakro. He also appealed for support for sustainable livelihoods of local communities living within the area.