Rainforest Alliance

REDD+ projects create new source of income for cocoa farmers

Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)

This is the fourth blog in our series focusing on our work in Ghana.  In this article Oduro Kwadwo from the Asanteman community displays his work in small scale forestry.

The UN-REDD Programme is the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. It aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by creating incentives that encourage land managers to conserve, restore and sustainably tend forests in developing countries.

In Juabeso/Bia almost every aspect of life is connected to cocoa. A stunning 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 REDD+ 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. In the REDD+ project, the Rainforest Alliance has assisted farmers with the extensive documentation that is needed to secure ownership of these 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 of 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.”

The Rainforest Alliance have calculated how much carbon can be stored in different types of land such productive cocoa areas, fallow lands and tree plantations. The models include 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.”

Next time Marcus Schaefer returns to tell us about the Grasscutter – Pest, delicacy and a potential new source of revenue.

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