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January 9 2004
Kakum national park
The Kakum National Rainforest Park is located about an hour north
of cape coast. Much of Ghana used to be covered in rainforest (Actually,
to be more precise, it is not technically a rainforest, because
it experiences a dry season, but it's pretty close), but most of
it is gone due to over logging. Most of this wood is exported to
The main attraction at the park is the canopy rope bridge. It was
the first of its kind in Africa, and was built by 2 Canadians with
the help of 8 Ghanaians. Yay for Canada! It is 340 meters long,
and located waaaaaay up above the top of the forest, suspended from
some of the abnormally height trees which seem to go twice as high
as the Canopy roof. When walking through the rainforest, it actually
seems quite small from the inside. The rooftop is low, and there
is allot of brush. You don't really get a chance to see that above
that visible roof there is much more. From above the canopy top
is a breathtaking experience for sure, and is not for the light
headed! The walkway is only wide enough to go one foot in front
of the other, and it sways while you walk on it.
One somewhat sad thing was that on the canopy top of the preserved
forest, I saw some garbage plastic bags sitting there.
After the canopy walk I was taken on a little tour of the forest,
shown many of the trees and had their medicinal uses described to
me. It seems that they use just every time of bark and wood for
something, from back pain to broken bones to perfume. Ghanaian culture
is very big on herbal medicines. Interestingly enough, there are
NO MOSQUITOS in the rainforest. Why is that? Well, one of the trees
that are used for perfume emits a scent that repels the little guys,
so the forest is Mosquito free! I wish our forests were like that.
is a display at the entrance of the rainforest which is very informative.
Apparently Ghana used to have 8000 hectares of rainforest, and now
has 2000. Interestingly enough, despite this being an age of environmental
activism, most of this cutting happened in the past 20 years.
This is significant for many reasons, the first is that rainforest
does not grow back. The topsoil is only a few inches thick, and
the richness of it all is maintained by a very busy mini-ecosystem
of micro-organisms. As such, when the trees disappear, so does all
of the useful soil, and the rainforest wont grow back with time.
This surprised me. Not only does this affect many animal species,
but also affects the water supply, the supply of available meat,
biodiversity, air quality, etc…
This affects the entire planet forever, but much of it is lost
mostly because of a fast grab for timber. It’s really quite sad.
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