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Call to action: more trees to restore landscapes and improve livelihoods in northern Ghana

January 4, 2019

“There is an urgent need in northern Ghana for metro, municipal and district assemblies, NGOs and civil society organizations to act immediately to address issues such as land tenure, bush fires, indiscriminate tree cutting, and a lack of financial resources, so that we increase tree cover and improve land health and livelihoods. This is our call to action.”

So reads the powerful declaration from a workshop in Bolgatanga, capital of Ghana’s Upper East Region. The unanimity of the participants in issuing their urgent call for action to expand the scale of land restoration for the regreening of northern Ghana and beyond was surprising, and very encouraging, given the diversity of their occupations and backgrounds.

The nearly 40 people who gathered to explore practices and policies that could encourage more trees in landscapes so as to reverse land degradation and improve livelihoods and food security, included leading farmers and extension officers from three districts — Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane — as well as representatives of Catholic Relief Services, Tree Aid and World Vision, and researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The participants identified the many benefits of increasing trees and forests in landscapes, such as the conservation of soil and water and the important economic, medicinal and nutritional value of indigenous species.

They also examined the complex constraints — cultural, climatic, legal, gender — that confront everyone working to improve the management of agricultural, pastoral and forest land in the region, including tree-planting activities that do not take into account the importance of species, context, management and timing.

Along with the call to action, the workshop produced a series of recommendations for policies and actions to improve tree cover, forests and land health in the three districts, including new laws to prevent indiscriminate tree-cutting, analyses and mapping of soils in the communities, and more emphasis on agroforestry systems with indigenous trees and crops.

The workshop was convened by two projects: West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, led by CIFOR and implemented by ICRAF in Ghana and Burkina Faso; and the five-year-long, Regreening Africa, funded by the European Union, in which ICRAF is a leading partner.

originally published on the Regreening Africa Website.

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