Smallholder plantation developers targeted in Ghana’s Landscape Restoration Project

A “Landscape Restoration Project” has taken off to develop guidelines for the planning and implementation of forest plantation schemes on off-reserve areas in Ghana.

The research project, implemented by Tropenbos International (TBI) Ghana, seeks to arrest deforestation and forest degradation whilst enhancing livelihoods. It also aims at discovering ways to improve benefit flow from forest plantations to stakeholders, especially local forest communities.

The three year project is funded by TBI Ghana at a cost of €102,784. Proposed project sites include resource-rich Dunkwa Forest District, resource-medium Offinso Forest District and resource-poor Kintampo Forest District.

“Invariably, plantations would be undertaken by smallholders but the system as it is now does not seem to take very good care of the interests and concerns of these smallholders who would be involved in the plantation programme,” observed Progamme Director of TBI Ghana, Samuel Kwabena Nketia.

The project will therefore analyze the present approaches and the different schemes of landscape restoration and engage stakeholders to identify barriers to plantation development. It will come up with options to inform policy for effective and sustainable models for plantation development.

“One key area we would be looking at is forestry extension service particularly to support smallholder plantation developers,” said Mr. Nketia.

Tree grower, Sylvester Amo-Quarm has been in private afforestation development for almost two decades. He complains government’s policy is not encouraging tree planting as a viable economic venture.

“I have about 75acres of teak which is supposed to be marketable but companies that treat woods cannot buy our teak so we cannot get money out of our trees and cumbersome processes for permits before harvesting the trees are not encouraging,” he observed.

The main objective of the Landscape Restoration Project is to provide insights into how plantations can be used to enhance the holistic functionality of forest landscapes, harmonize competing land uses, stimulate local economy by creating sustainable livelihoods and reduce some of the drivers of degradation.

Project implementation partners include Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) and the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources (FRNR) of the KNUST.

Mr. Kyereh Boateng of the FRNR highlighted the importance of the project to improve the contribution of smallholder forest plantations to livelihoods, the Ghanaian economy and the environment.

The mechanism for project implementation, he noted, will provide analysis of the present approaches to forest plantations development through field surveys, stakeholder engagement and desk studies to identify policy, management and socio-cultural barriers to successful plantation development and the support needs to overcome them.

It will feed into a number of government programmes, including the Ghana Strategy for Restoration of Landscape Productivity, which has an annual target of planting 20,000 both on and off-reserve from 2015-2040 under the forest plantation programme.

Technical Director at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource, Musah Abu-Juam, says there are new funding opportunities for the private sector to go into tree plantation.

Through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a $10million facility would be available as start-up to create the enabling environment, especially in land tenure and training, to support plantation developments, he said.

Mr. Abu-Juam observed Ghana is making progress in sustainable land management but noted there are great examples in other economies for the country to learn from.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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