The Kakum National Park at Abrafo-Odumase in the Central Region has inaugurated a refurbished exhibition centre.
The exhibition hall was renovated by the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust (GHCT) with support from the French Embassy in Ghana through its 2020 Sankofa small grants.
The GH¢30,000 project, which is the first phase of a refurbishment project at the facility commenced in 2018.
Other partners in the rehabilitation were the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Wildlife Division under the Forestry Commission (FC).
The exhibition centre was developed around six thematic areas, which include the introduction and history of the Kakum conservation area, the rainforest structure, ecosystem services and products, special conservation efforts and alternative/additional livelihoods and visitors.
The chairman of the Board of Trustees of GHCT, Akunu Dake, in his welcome address said the exhibition centre was designed to showcase the natural heritage of the Kakum National Park, in addition to reflecting the ecological beauty of the park and its history.
He said it would also aid staff in sensitising visitors to conservation efforts being implemented by the GHCT and the Wildlife Division of the FC and what role visitors could play in safeguarding the ecosystem.
He added that the management of Kakum would strive to ensure that the park was a pacesetter, saying they were glad to continue on that trajectory.
Mr Dake said under a special public private partnership agreement, the Wildlife Division was tasked with managing and maintaining the park, visitors centre and canopy walkway.
He said the board would consider looking at developing an audio -visual section as well, which would place visitors in the forest, and called for both financial and technical support.
Mr Dake noted that the board had plans to further change the outlook of the park’s visitor centre and introduce more attractions to enhance the developing tourism landscape of the country.
He commended the Embassy of France in Ghana through the Sankofa Support Project for Higher Education and Research in Heritage and Tourism in Ghana, for their important foundational support for the renovation works.
The Director, Stakeholders and Ecotourism of the FC, Dr Richard Gyimah, commended the GHCT for its partnership with the FC to develop ecotourism sites.
He said the inauguration of the exhibition hall would undoubtedly provide tourists and visitors with the necessary serene atmosphere to connect with nature and also appreciate better the importance of biodiversity conversation.
It will also promote conservation education, while serving as a centre for research and understanding the cultural values of communities.
He called on prospective development partners who want to collaborate with the FC to develop nature -based tourism into various protected areas in Ghana to avail themselves for further engagement.
The Central Regional Minister, Justina Marigold Assan, for her part, added that the hall interpreted the complexities, which underlined tropical rainforest diversities, the interdependencies among species of flora and fauna as well as the numerous biological connections, which make the rain forest a web of life.
She said it would also help the GHCT to execute its core mandate of managing the walkway and the promotion of environmental and conservation education awareness.
“It is my hope that this new edifice will help visitors, especially students, to learn and gain more knowledge about Kakum National Park and the unique services culture here,” she said.
Mrs Assan encouraged management of the park and their development partners to continue the collaboration to ensure steady growth and the promotion of tourism, attract tourists and increase revenue to further improve the quality of service.
The Head of Cooperation of the French Embassy in Ghana, Julien Lecas, stated that the Sankofa project which the GHCT benefitted from in 2020 aimed at encouraging the strengthening of civil societies and communities among other actors in Ghana, towards the better preservation, promotion and rehabilitation of culture and heritage. He said that they were honoured that the GHCT had successfully completed the renovation of the exhibition centre.
He added that the French Embassy in Ghana was poised to support the promotion, protection and preservation of culture and heritage in Ghana.
The Denkyira Kyidomhene, Nana Oduro Appiako II, who chaired the function, was very delighted about the new exhibition centre and urged both locals and foreigners to visit the facility.
The Kakum National Park is a tropical rainforest that remains pivotal in the country’s tourism and natural heritage sector and receives annually the highest number of visitations and ranks number one among all the tourist attractions in Ghana.