Rainforest Alliance and Olam are improving cocoa forest landscape corridor to sustain the agricultural livelihoods of communities

Transforming lives and our forest require lasting partnerships. Rainforest Alliance and Olam Ghana are working closely with Partnership for Forest, the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Forestry Commission to demonstrate how partnerships with civil society, government, local communities, and the private sector can deliver sustainable change, through self-governing, multi-actor collaboration at the landscape level.

The four-year project, funded by UK aid from the UK Government, aims to conserve and sustain the agricultural livelihoods of communities in the cocoa forest landscape in the corridor around the Sui River and the Suhuma, Tano Ehuro,Tano Suhien and Santomang Forest Reserves. Targeted communities are in the Sefwi Wiawso, Bodi, and the Akontombra districts under the Cocoa and Forest Initiative. The landscape corridor is to be created around the fragmented forest reserves which are located within three political districts. The total land mass covers a surface area of about 12,772.6 square kilometers representing about 11 percent of the region’s total land area. This means that actions within the corridor would contribute significantly to the protection of about 97,612-hectares of forest reserves.

Additionally, the project seeks to conserve biodiversity in these landscapes, increase climate resilience, income and food security among smallholder farmers to contribute directly to the national-level efforts aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Two Landscape Management Boards (LMBs) have been created to improve participatory forests landscape governance, monitor and control the surrounding forest reserves. The LMB will facilitate and build community governance capacities at the landscape and community level and organize farmers in the corridor. The LMB also focuses on increasing wider participation in the project and extending benefits to communities and farmers.

LMB executives were inaugurated on the 9th of August 2018. In attendance were Omanhene of Sefwi Traditional Council, the Western Regional Minister and representatives of the Forestry Commission and Ghana Cocoa Board. The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources swore the LMBs into office giving the executives the authority to manage the natural resources within their areas of jurisdiction.

The project in its first year of implementation has delivered a detailed long-term plan for landscape management, developed with all stakeholders, and established the LMBs. Subsequently, a baseline survey for the M&E framework, which align the project with Ghana’s national cocoa strategy and policies and the cocoa and chocolate industry’s Cocoa & Forests Initiative have been undertaken.

So far, 74 communities have signed up to participate in the project. Landscape Management Plans (LMPs) which identify focal issues and action plans to mitigate land degradation within the landscape have been designed for implementation. Business and financial plans to aid business and financial management have also been drafted to sustain and ensure the continual functioning of the LMB beyond funding after the project’s life.

The two presidents of the LMBs delivering speeches during their inauguration.