FLR in Ghana - Lessons learned and the Way Forward
FLR IN GHANA- LESSONS LEARNT
AND THE WAY FORWARD
Dr. Dominic Blay
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
(FORIG), Kumasi, Ghana
• At the turn of the century it was estimated that Ghana had 8.1 million ha of forest
land (Ghartey, 1989).
• At present, the total area of forest estates of Ghana occupies an area of 2.1 million
ha with 1.8 million ha in the high forest zone and only 0.3 million ha in the
• Outside the gazetted areas, an estimated 400,000 ha of forest cover still exist (off-
• There are 266 forest reserves of a total area of 1,634,100 ha but analysis by
Hawthorne and Abu - Juam (1995) showed that of the total area, only 90,000 ha is
in reasonable good condition and the remainder is mostly degraded or has no
significant forest left (Figure 1).
• This degradation is more prevalent in the dry semi deciduous areas of Ghana.
The ecological zones of Ghana
Fig. 1: Condition of forest reserves in the High forest Zone of Ghana
Source: Hawthorne and Abu – Juam, 1995
• However forest resources in Ghana are very important natural resource because they provide
ecological benefits including protection of watersheds, soils, hills and sanctuaries.
• They also contain very many genetic materials of known and yet to be known importance. In
addition local communities have high dependence on the resources for farmland, foraging, for
food, hunting for meat, fodder and fuel wood.
• There is also the timber industry, which depends on resources from the forest. The industry directly
employs over 170,000 people with dependent families.
• The industry also supplies the timber needs of the 20 million Ghanaians as well as being Ghana’s
third most important export product after gold and cocoa. The annual value of wood exports is of
the order of US$ 120 million FOB. Timber currently contributes 6% of GDP, earns 11% of Ghana’s
foreign exchange, and provides about 30% of export earnings.
• These forests are particularly important to the poor serving as ‘safety net’ providing emergency
sustenance during crops failure, economic crisis and in conflicts situations.
• Therefore restoration of the degraded forests was made a key component of Ghana’s 1994 Forest
and Wildlife Policy and the 1996 Forestry Development Master Plan.
• Hence the government instituted the National Plantation Development project in
• Since then a number of other projects have been implemented by different
stakeholders including governmental agencies, mining companies, NGO’s and
private individuals aimed at restoring degraded forest to productivity.
• However, most of these projects have used the traditional restoration techniques
whose main attribute is to increase forest cover rather than the holistic landscape
restoration approach as defined by IUCN/WWF, which has social, economic and
• The Forest Landscape Restoration approach looks at a mosaic of land uses
including agricultural lands and forest types ranging from plantations to natural
• It might for example be used to help buffer a small and isolated protected area by
re-establishing trees on surrounding land that, whilst having a range of social or
commercial functions, could also help support native biodiversity.
The key principles of Forest Landscape Restoration are that it:
• is implemented at a landscape scale rather than a site scale
• has both socio-economic and ecological dimensions
• addresses the root causes of degradation and poor forest quality (such as
perverse incentives and inequitable land tenure)
• opts for a package of solutions, which may include practical techniques for
increasing forest cover at a landscape scale but also embraces policy
analysis, training and research
• involves a range of stakeholders in planning and decision-making to
achieve a solution that is acceptable and therefore sustainable
• involves identifying and negotiating trade-offs (IUCN, 2004)
• It is now currently thought that using FLR
approach to solving the problems of forest
degradation is more appropriate than the
• While there are policies and some field initiatives
on some aspects of FLR in the country no studies
had been conducted to review these to
determine how far they meet the FLR process.
• A study was therefore undertaken to review how
far these policies as well as field initiatives met
the concept of FLR.
Review of policy and projects documents reveal the
following lessons that need to be learnt:
These are as follows:
• In most Forest policy documents there are strategies on
aspects on forest restoration
• However Most of these strategies have roles and
responsibilities that are oriented towards state institutions
with minimal role for other stakeholders like the timber
industry, farmers and forest fringe communities.
• Almost all the strategies lays emphasis on the
ecological aspects with very little on the socio-
economic dimensions including, acceptable
and equitable benefit sharing, as well as
livelihood and capacity building issues
especially for local communities.
• There is lack of democratization and
decentralization in activities and programmes
related to restoration
• There is also lack of policy and or legal backing
at either the district or national level, for
community based restoration initiatives.
• There is the need resolve land and tree
ownership issues before the implementation of
restoration projects to avoid conflicts.
• There is the need to involve all stakeholders. at
all levels, village, divisional, district, regional and
national in restoration programmes.
• This could be done by engaging them in planning,
implementation and benefits-sharing arrangements .
• There is also the need to share information and
• Countries with similar problems need to share
experiences and adapt approaches to local conditions.
• Within a country, relevant institutions should have the
capacity to widely disseminate appropriate knowledge
regarding natural resource management.
• Project start-up workshops should be organized for
stakeholders. Such workshops provide opportunities
to discuss and clarify issues, which may compromise
effective participation and commitment from all the
• Pre-project baseline data on local communities
(socio-economic conditions) should be determined
since such data are important to fully assess project
• Projects must be planned to ensure
sustainability of the benefits of restoration
when project activities come to an end, to
prevent the restored land returning to its pre-
• Promises made to local communities must be
delivered. Without delivering on promises to
local communities, the motivation to work on
community projects by local communities is
• Appropriate utilization of scientific background
information (past research results on farmers’
preferences for tree species and on tree planting
distance as well as judicious use of farmers’ practices
and experience be used since such usage facilitates
community based involvement in rehabilitation
• FLR projects which use high-value trees , improve
animal fodder supply and include alternative
livelihood activities are likely to be more successful
than projects which restrict their objectives to the
repair of biophysical degradation of soils and
• Projects which are successful are those which have
techniques and technologies to be simple and
inexpensive (both in terms of cash and labour), and
relate as much as possible to local knowledge and
• For Projects to be successful, local communities
should perceive them to have a direct bearing on
their livelihoods, i.e., the project is believed to have a
clear potential to deliver tangible and short term
benefits such as wood and non-timber forest
products for human and livestock direct use and for
• Capacity for almost all stakeholders in Current landscape
restoration techniques is minimal since most projects have
until now being using traditional techniques.
• Very limited use is made of local knowledge and experience
in restoration processes. because of Technocratic arrogance’
and matching style of management by forest professionals
which assumed that local people have no worthwhile
knowledge in the area and local people have no interest in
forest protection and conservation.
THE WAY FORWARD
• Appropriate policies should be adopted that, among others,
allow a paradigm shift in forest governance from centralized
to decentralized management involving local communities
(community-based forest management or joint forest
management) and other stakeholders.
• Decentralization of forest control and management from
national agencies to local governments also creates
conditions that are more conducive to local input.
• There should be equitable and transparent sharing of both
benefits and costs because democratization enables local
people and others outside the forestry sector to slowly gain a
voice in the management of public forests and in forestry
planning and policy.
• Also institutional reforms involving civil society and NGO’s
should be formulated and implemented and that these should
focus on empowering local communities, facilitating the set
up of partnerships in the natural resources and providing
them access to financial resources at national and local levels
• Most key factors which cause land
degradation are outside the forestry sector ,as
result FLR should be should be integrated into
other sectoral strategies..
• An improved land tenure system would bring
about land security and could encourage
investment in land, promote higher land
productivity and reduce the rate of land
• Thus reform of land tenure systems is thus required,
but it must be based on a refined understanding of
the socio-cultural conditions and local politics of
individual countries. Land policies should be
reviewed so as to enable families and communities
to have secure and clear tenure rights.
• With financial resources being a hindrance for
restoration in most African countries regional efforts
should be strengthened to access GEF assistance as
well as support from other bilateral and multilateral
donors in supplementing country resources in
rehabilitating degraded lands. Also countries, in
collaboration with international institutions, should
establish funds for rehabilitation, replenished partially
by forestry activity revenues
• There is a need to share information and experiences.
Countries with similar problems need to share
experiences and adapt approaches to local conditions.
• Within a country, relevant institutions should
have the capacity to widely disseminate
appropriate knowledge regarding natural
• With the private sector being one of
institutions that contribute to degradation in
most African Countries their involvement in
rehabilitation should be encouraged.
• Restoration programmes and projects should
involve local communities and other
stakeholders in participatory planning and
• Local communities should be empowered for
effective participation in restoration.
And this requires the fulfillment of these conditions,
- A functional institutional framework at village level
to oversee planning, implementation and
- Capacity building of communities to enable them to
implement projects; an encompassing benefit
sharing arrangements which are endorsed by all
stakeholders including traditional authorities and
local community representatives.
– Development of alternative livelihood systems based on
forest micro -processing industries, including value addition
NTFPs, wood processing at the village level etc. trade and
handicraft .This could ease pressure on land and offer
opportunities to people to generate extra income.
, Projects must be planned to ensure sustainability of the
benefits of reforestation when project activities come to an
end, to prevent the restored land returning to its pre-project
• Reforestation activities should be preceded by
creating or raising awareness of the
• Governments should develop national strategies and
capacities to monitor the state of natural resources (including
trees and forests) in order to plan for effective conservation
and rehabilitation of the resources following defined targets
• The importance of forests and allied natural resources in
environmental protection, poverty alleviation and support to
rural livelihood in the should be recognized and therefore
integrated and sustainable management of the resources is
• Governments and development actors should identify and
disseminate appropriate knowledge regarding natural
resource management and conservation, and validate and
promote local innovations and experiences;
Research and Training
• Countries should ensure that research is demand
driven and considers community and socio-economic
• Research is also needed on:
– valuation and socio-economic aspects of
– field trials of mixed tree/shrub species for
rehabilitation of degraded lands.
– assessment of the watershed protection ,carbon
storage and biodiversity conservation potential of
degraded and restored landscapes.
– potential impact of climate change on forest
landscapes and the development of appropriate
– Training and dissemination of improved
technologies for rehabilitation of degraded lands
should be implemented in close partnership with
existing governmental and non-governmental
agricultural extension services.
• The importance of adequate and precise information
on natural resources for sound decision making and,
especially lack of such data on a wide range of
aspects cannot be overemphasized.
• It is thus recommended that proper mechanisms be
put in place for data acquisition by putting in place
mechanisms to share such results and lesions to
avoid duplication of efforts and ensure formulation
and implementation of more effective programmes,
since research in Africa is far from complete but that
relevant data exists in other regions within the
• Due to the continuing and increasing needs for skills to
promote restoration of degraded lands and the challenging
needs at national and international levels, it is recommended
that national governments and partners should support
formal and in-service training and, curriculum development
including gender issues;
• Due to the significance of dissemination of information and
adoption of technologies to beneficiaries or target groups, it is
recommended that governments and partners should support
and strengthen extension and training facilities at research
and educational institutions.