, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 503-518
Date: 03 Feb 2007

Involving local farmers in rehabilitation of degraded tropical forests: some lessons from Ghana

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Abstract

The role of community-based plantation development in forest rehabilitation and poverty alleviation is a pressing issue for the government of Ghana. In this paper, we present an analysis of the prospects of a community-based plantation using taungya systems and indigenous trees as means to forest rehabilitation and livelihood improvement in Ghana. The project management strategies, communication process and incentive mechanism and their impact on local participation are discussed with the aim to recommending a mechanism through which local farmers can best be involved in rehabilitation of degraded sites in the future in Ghana. Data were collected through a survey using personal interviews of 431 farming households and ten key informants from ten communities living in scattered hamlets in and around forests reserves. The results show a high rate of local participation in project tree planting activities. Four years after the project’s initiation, about 250 ha of plantations had been established using twelve priority indigenous and one exotic species and farmers had indicated improvement in their farming practices and availability of food and forest products. Restoring forest quality as a timber resource and associated values, getting money, food stuff and timber and non-timber for domestic use, and having access to fertile land for farming were the top three issues prioritised by respondents as motivational factors for engaging in the project activities. Overall, this project demonstrates that reversing tropical forest degradation is possible. For this we need local involvement in tree domestication combined with activities that addresses livelihood needs and environmental concerns. This case also demonstrates the prospects of utilising indigenous tree species, not only exotic species that dominated tree planting in the past, for plantations and landscape rehabilitation in Ghana.

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