In this latest blog from our Ghana series, focusing on our work with cocoa farmers, Oduro Kwadwo from the Asanteman community presents his work in small scale forestry.
In the Juabeso/Bia area almost every aspect of life is connected to cocoa. An astonishing 80 percent of the land in the area is used for cocoa farming and the land not suitable for cocoa farming is often left to lie fallow. Together with the Rainforest Alliance, 36 villages have planted 58,438 trees on this fallow land. Oduro Kwadwo who lives in the village of Asanteman, is one of 227 farmers that have participated in the project.
“I have planted 800 trees on my land, mostly mahogany and cedrella. If God is willing, I will be able to sell the timber in eleven or twelve years time”, says Oduro Kwadwo. “That money will be a welcome addition to the income from cocoa. The planting of trees provides an extra security if there were to be trouble with my cocoa farm.”
But the forestry legislation in Ghana is relatively weak and does not encourage small-scale forestry operations. All trees, that are not documented, belong to the state regardless of who owns the land. As part of this project, Rainforest Alliance has assisted farmers with the extensive documentation that is needed to secure ownership of the trees.
“Farmers are required to have detailed maps of their lands and all planted trees must be documented,” says Denis Oppong of Agro Eco, the Implementing Partner of Rainforest Alliance in Ghana “the cost for seedlings is another challenge and we are trying to build capacity so that most of the trees planted would come from nurseries that we are helping the farmers to build in their communities.”
As part of the project, the Rainforest Alliance has calculated how much carbon can be stored in different types of land, such as productive cocoa areas, fallow lands and tree plantations. The model includes how the level of carbon stocks change depending on which improvements are put in place.
“We will share this knowledge with the Ghanaian authorities so it can be used in future REDD and REDD+ projects”, says Denis Oppong.
Ghana has the world’s highest deforestation rate and every year two percent of the remaining forests disappear. Outside of national parks and forest reserves only 40,000 hectares of rainforest remain out of the 8.2 million hectares that were standing at the beginning of 20th century.
“So it is very important to protect the few remaining pockets of forest. The first step is to create awareness about the trees’ importance.” Denis Oppong concludes, “Replanting projects such as this are an effective way of doing that.”