GEF / FAO – TRANSBOUNDARY
Component 1: Improved capacity for biodiversity conservation protected area management, monitoring and evaluation (MME)
Regular forest monitoring is crucial for assessing the status of biodiversity in forests and protected areas. In addition to the usual forest patrolling, protected area staff will be trained to conduct biodiversity surveys and enter this information into a monitoring system that will be used to evaluate protected area management effectiveness.
The monitoring system will use presence/absence indices, based on indicators of whether a species is present in a determined area. These indices will be very useful for endangered species whose presence in a determined area is in doubt. For instance, the presence of tracks will positively indicate the presence of a specific species in an area. If possible, the numerical relationship between the index of presence and the actual species abundance will be established. A direct relationship would indicate that a doubling in the index means that the total population in an area has doubled. Oral communications from local people will also be used as an index of presence/absence and as an index of relative abundance, as local people living in rural areas close to the distribution range of a species have usually some data on species.
Development of a management plan for the area
At present, there is no cross-border collaboration in the realms of forest management or wildlife conservation and the two countries have different legal and administrative systems and different systems for managing forests and wildlife. The project will bring together the statutory organisations that have the mandate for the protection and management of forest and wildlife resources – the Forest Services and Wildlife Divisions of the Forestry Commission in Ghana and the Societé de Développement des Forêts (SODEFOR) and national parks service (OIPR) in Côte d’Ivoire – to establish a common management plan for the Trans-boundary Conservation Area.
Component 2: Ecosystem restoration and protection
Tree Ownership Registration
In Ghana, there are a number of measures to support biodiversity conservation that are ineffective because local communities may not be aware of them. For instance, farmers are reluctant to keep trees on their farms because when the trees grow they do not own them and they are not compensated for damage after trees have been removed by timber concessionaires. As a result, most farmers destroy the trees on their farms. However, quite recently, there has been an avenue for farmers to register the trees planted on their farms in Ghana to secure their ownership. Most farmers are still not aware of such arrangements. The project is creating awareness about this arrangement and assisting farmers and the Forest Services Division – Forestry Commission to put this new scheme into practice. Opportunities will be explored on the Ivorian side for the possibility of replication there.
Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) and Community Forests (CFs)
The Protected Area Development Pro has already established Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) in some parts of the proposed corridor on the Ghanaian side. The project will work with community leadership and Forestry Commission – Wildlife Division to establish two more CREMAs to supplement the existing ones on the Ghanaian side. Cote d’Ivoire will focus on strengthening the management of the existing Community Forests through, for example, better organisation of management and user groups within these areas. The project will then monitor the management of the CREMAs and CFs for compliance with and contributions to the agreed TFCA management plan.
Enrichment planting is a technique for promoting artificial regeneration of forests in which seedlings of preferred timber trees are planted in the under-storey of existing degraded forests and then given preferential treatment to encourage their growth. An alternative to this is Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), where weed competition with existing seedlings and saplings is removed so that they can flourish.
The idea here is that forest cover in the degraded areas outside the protected areas and the CREMAs will be increased to create more viable wildlife corridors. These areas are currently characterized by few trees that are sparsely distributed, so there is the need to plant more or to enhance natural regeneration. Generally, a wildlife corridor width lies between 0.5 to 1.5 km and the project proposes a 1 km width of corridors to link the protected areas in the portions without CREMAs or community forests. There will be enrichment planting and/or ANR between Bia and Diambarakro, Diambarakro and Bossematié and Bossematié and Beki.
Component 3: Strengthened conservation in the production landscape
Human-wildlife conflict management
Human-wildlife conflict occurs when wildlife requirements encroach on those of human populations, with costs both to residents and wild animals. Most elephants in the West African forests are now found in small forest reserves surrounded by an agricultural landscape. The close proximity to people makes them vulnerable to hunting, but it also exposes farmers to crop-raiding by elephants. This has become a serious problem in some places, but much can be done to reduce the incidence of crop damage. Farmers and staff of Wildlife Division and OIPR will be trained in environmentally-friendly ways of managing these conflicts.
Cocoa agroforestry and improved Sustainable Land Management practices
The West African sub region is host to the world’s main cocoa producing countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. These countries are also undergoing major deforestation processes through progressive conversion of forests into cocoa fields and the majority of cocoa production is concentrated in established biodiversity hotspots. In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire for instance, 50 percent of the total cocoa farm area is under mild shade (about 10 percent tree cover) while of 10 percent and 35 percent is managed under no shade at all in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire respectively. The project will train farmer representatives in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire who will in turn train their fellow farmers in their communities (trainer of trainers) in sustainable agriculture with respect to cocoa.