Profile of Songor Ramsar Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Ada - Dickson Agyeman (Protected Area Manager)
Songor Ramsar and UNESCO Biosphere reserve is one of the protected wetlands situated along the eastern portion of Ghana’s 550km sandy coast. Although Ghana ratified the Ramsar Convention on 22nd June 1988, Songor was designated as a Ramsar conservation site on 14th August 1992. Songor is also one of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserves that were adopted on June 2011 in Dresden, Germany. Located between latitudes 06° 00’25’’N and 00° 19’E and 05°45’30’’N, 00° 41’40’’ E, Songor Ramsar and UNESCO Biosphere reserve occupies an area of 51, 133.3 hectares.
Songor has unique ecological systems that support diverse life forms. The site has a flat landscape with interconnected serpentine creeks from the estuary. The sandy beach is smooth without cliffs. The lagoon provides feeding and roosting habitat for wintering birds during the months of November to March. There are huge expanses of reeds, sesuvium postulacastrum, paspalium viginatum, eleocharis mutata, etc. which are of ecological, socio-economic and cultural importance.
Songor Ramsar and UNESCO Biosphere reserve is the only natural entry point where the largest man-made lake- the Volta River enters the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean that borders the southern portions of the reserve provides a long stretch of sandy beach that is suitable as a nesting habitat for four globally endangered marine turtles. Strong spiritual attachment to habitats and specific species and other resources through historical antecedents has led to the creation of enclaves such as sacred groves for performing annual rituals, festivals and the protection of some habitats and animal species eg. marine turtles.
The estuarine environment provide brackish water ecosystem for the regeneration of two species of mangroves, the white mangroves (Avicennia marina) and red mangroves (Rizophora racemosa). The bluish estuarine brackish water environment maintains adequate depth for water sport. These provide avenue for employment for boat users and other hospitality industries.
The management concept of the wetlands aims at developing the bases for sustainable natural resource use and the conservation of biological diversity for the improvement of relationships between people and their environment. Songor provides nesting habitat for four species of globally threatened turtles, two species of mangroves, 57 species of migratory birds, manatees, crocodiles, monkeys and other diverse flora and fauna.
Diverse ecosystems and avenue for investment
The estuary - The only natural entry point of the Volta River in southern Ghana is the Atlantic Ocean. This unique habitat provides avenue for jet skiing, boat cruising and nature viewing. The bluish estuarine brackish water environment maintains adequate water depth, an important link that supports sports fishing in the river, the estuary or an entry into deep sea for angular fishing.
The Volta River - The near natural and unpolluted bluish water provides avenue for safe swimming and holiday tours. Indigenous livelihood and life forms on the inhabited islands provide unique opportunity for relaxation and interaction.
Pristine Mangrove forest - The undisturbed mangrove exists on some of the uninhabited and habited islands such as Aflive, Agbevue, Kewunor etc. These natural and pristine ecosystem harbors rich biodiversity such as birds, crocodiles, African pythons, monitor lizards etc..
Lagoon - The substratum of one of the biggest lagoon in Ghana, Songor, provides excellent feeding and roosting grounds for wintering birds during their migratory journey. Over fifty - seven (57) species of wintering birds roost, nest and feed within the designated ecosystem.
Sandy beach - The nourished and natural sandy beach offers excellent site for resting, recreation, swimming, sun basking and night moonwalk. In the months of September to January, unique opportunities exist for viewing nesting turtles in the night at the beach. The guided tour is never disappointing, as visitors will have first hand experience of an introductory lesson in a turtle conservation center. Visitors who may be lucky will observe turtle hatchlings in a hatchery, which is attached to the conservation center.
Let’s help protect nature