Deforestation Trends, Based on Satellite Monitoring
Deforestation poses a significant challenge in Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer. Between 2002 and 2020, the country 9.3% of its precious humid primary forests, predominantly in the High Forest Zone, which is a crucial cocoa production belt. Agricultural activities, particularly cocoa farming and expansion, emerged as one of the leading drivers of deforestation, underscoring the urgent need for intervention. Addressing this critical issue, the CFI engaged Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) of the Forestry Commission of Ghana to identify and map various land use categories within the Hotspot Intervention Areas (HIAs). The aim was to provide crucial insights into forest cover changes, deforestation trends, and forest conversions, while also identifying deforestation hotspots and analyzing their impacts on the landscape.
In 2022, land cover and land use change maps for four distinct epochs: 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, covering six HIAs were developed, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the evolving situation. Additionally, deforestation impact analysis and forest risk maps were created to enhance implementation of targeted interventions.
The land cover maps revealed two dominant land uses across the HIAs: cocoa plantations and forests. While protected areas predominantly housed forests, cocoa plantations dominated the regions outside these protective zones. Overall, there was a net reduction in forest cover and a slight decrease in cocoa plantations across the HIAs. The annual deforestation rates varied from 0.006 to 0.064, with the highest rate recorded in Asunafo Asutifi HIA and the lowest in Sefwi Wiawso, Bibiani, and Anwiaso HIA. Deforestation outside protected areas outpaced that occurring within them, with the exception of the Sefwi Wiawso, Bibiani, and Anwiaso HIA. These outcomes carry profound implications, highlighting the need for interventions that prioritize safeguarding forest cover outside the protected areas. Preserving these vital forested regions is crucial to curbing further conversion into cocoa plantations and mitigating the environmental impacts of deforestation.
Ghana lost 9.3% of the humid primary forest between 2002 and 2020. A major driver of deforestation in the High Forest Zone which is also the cocoa production belt is agriculture with cocoa cultivation and expansion being the single most important commodity driver. Therefore the CFI’s aim is to provide an enabling environment for cocoa sector players to positively contribute towards stopping further conversion of any forestland, zero production and sourcing of cocoa from protected areas. Key to the initiative is the ability to identify and map different landcover categories within the landscape and building on that to provide information on forests cover change, deforestation trends and forest conversion. In addition to these, identify deforestation hotspots, analyze the impact of deforestation on the landscape and provide information which will guide the implementation of forest interventions.
For the purpose of tracking deforestation trends and develop meaningful periodic reporting, the CFI National Secretariat with funding through IDH, engaged the RMSC to use spatial data to determine the extent of deforestation in the 6 priority hotspots in Ghana, the dominant driver of deforestation and use the information to assess the performance of the intervention on the ground and report on them appropriately. For the ease of replicability and consistency of comparison over a period of time CFI stakeholders led by the CFI M&E taskforce has developed a reporting template to be used over the years and updated when necessary.
Since this is the first time this kind of analysis has been undertaken for the purpose of assessing the impact of CFI programs and activities on deforestation, it will not be possible to compare the results to previous years. Rather this information will serve as a baseline for comparison of future assessments. It must be stated here that the information and analysis is purely based on satellite imagery without any ground verification done.
It also does not represent the entire cocoa growing landscape since the assessment was concentrated in the 6 HIAs that are the priority areas under the GCFRP.
Juabeso-Bia Hotspot Intervention Area
The Juabeso-Bia Hotpot Intervention Area (HIA) has a total forest cover of 110,603.45 Ha out of a total 243,561 Ha. A total of 10% of the total cover of the forest has been lost as of 2019 with a deforestation rate of 0.03%. Despite the presence of several forest enhancement activities in the HIA which has resulted in the 2980.79 Ha of forest enhanced over the period, about 8,093.50 Ha of forest has been lost. This puts 26.87% of the remaining forest under risk of being converted to other uses. The main driver of deforestation is food crop production with cocoa production contributing 10% of the total deforestation in the landscape. Majority of this deforestation currently happens within the off- reserve areas (57%) of the landscape. Within the forest reserves, deforestation is due to high number of admitted farms that have grown into settlements with high demands for food crops. Food security remains a critical issue within the landscape especially when most of the arable lands outside forest reserves have been converted to cocoa farms. Recent interventions within the landscape have targeted food crop production especially plantain, cocoyam, maize, and vegetable production as a measure to improve the food security issue within the landscape.
Ahafo-Ano Hotspot Intervention Area
Out of a total 365,673ha within the Ahafo-Ano HIA, there is a forest cover of 118,718.18 Ha presenting 30 % of the total landscape land area. With a total forest loss of 17% within the landscape, the HIA with its proximity to the Kumasi Metropolis is one of the sources of raw materials and food for the urban centre. With this demand raising over the years and the relative expansion of urban settlements towards the landscape, the pressure on land is projected to increase over the coming years. Over the period there was significant efforts by stakeholders to enhance the forest in the landscape which resulted in about 10,000 ha of forest enhanced. But this was not enough to result in a positive gain in forest in the landscape as the net forest loss was approx. 18,000 Ha. The rate of deforestation in the landscape was 0.04% with the major dirver being food crop production and was mainly in the off-reserve areas (93%).
Asunafo Hotspot Intervention Area
The Asunafo HIA covers an area of 365,550 Ha including a forest area of 124,829.65.
The HIA experienced a 23.61% decline in forest area. This reduction was primarily caused by the considerable demand for forest resources (timber) and the gradual expansion of urban communities into the region. The HIA which also has some of the major towns in the Ahafo region can also boast of the presence of the regional capital (Goaso) which has attracted a lot of workers into the region. Consequently, the forest cover shrank by 25,476.58 Ha. Deforestation in the area occurred at a rate of 0.06%, primarily driven by the expansion of food crop cultivation, particularly in the off-reserve zones (80%). As the highest performing HIA in the recent emission reductions monitoring report under the GCFRP, the landscape has the potential to further reduce deforestation and improve the livelihoods of farmers and their communities through sustainable cocoa production and forest management.
Atewa Hotspot Intervention Area
The Atewa Hotpot Intervention Area (HIA) has a forest cover of 70,682.79 Ha, of which 4,233.40 Ha (about 6% of total forest cover) is used for food crops and cocoa cultivation. Despite a deforestation rate of 0.02%, the Atewa HIA has had a net forest gain of 2,856.30 Ha due to stakeholder engagements over the years. However, food crops and cocoa production are the main drivers of deforestation, with cocoa accounting for 29% of the total deforestation in the area. Deforestation mostly occurs within off-reserve areas (69%) and within forest reserves due to high demand for food crops. Food security is a critical issue in the area, especially since most arable lands outside forest reserves have been converted to cocoa farms. The HIA is under serious threat of mining for gold and bauxite as Atewa Range Forest Reserve together with Tano Offin Forest Reserve hosts the remains of Ghana’s upland evergreen forest and known to hold some good quantities of bauxite. As such continuous exploration for minerals within the landscape keeps on fragmenting the vegetation and habitats for wildlife.
Kakum Hotspot Intervention Area
The Kakum HIA has the smallest forest cover among the 6 priority hotspots in Ghana, with 6.8% of the forest lost to food crop cultivation. A bigger portion of the area is covered by the Kakum National Park and the Assin Attendanso Resource Reserve which is managed effectively by the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission. Despite a deforestation rate of 0.02, the Kakum HIA has had a net forest loss of -1,149.35 Ha, with cocoa cultivation accounting for 27% of the total forest loss. Land available for cocoa production is scarce and currently restricted to the northern and eastern parts of the HIA. The expansion of farmlands and rising demands for forest products have contributed to the significant loss in forest cover. However, forest enhancement programs have resulted in a forest gain of 1,304.37 Ha. Almost 40% of deforestation in this HIA occurs in Protected Areas, while the remaining 60% takes place in off- reserves.
Sefwi-Bibiani Hotspot Intervention Area
The Bibiani HIA, which has a forest cover of 60,989.08 Ha, has the lowest deforestation rate of 0.006%. A total of 1,058.99 Ha of forest cover was lost primarily due to food crop production, with cocoa cultivation contributing to 24% of the total forest loss. However, effective forest enhancement measures have resulted in the enhancement of approximately 1,519.64 Ha of forest, leading to a net forest gain of 460.65 Ha. Approximately 80% of the reported forest loss occurred outside Protected Areas. Most of the major events that resulted in the deforestation happened prior to the assessment (before 2019) and thus have not been captured here. Also, a lot of effort has been put into recent interventions in the landscape to ensure that the forest is restored and well-managed.
Forest cover within the various HIAs is mostly found in the protected areas with cocoa farms dominant outside the protected areas. Deforestation within protected areas could also be directly attributed to the numerous admitted farms and settlements within these forest reserves and their demand for food, thus the food crop farms. In general, there was a net reduction in forest cover and a slight reduction in cocoa farms across the HIAs. This could be attributed to the recent efforts to restore degraded lands and COCOBOD’s efforts to rehabilitate diseased and moribund farms. Deforestation in all the HIAs was higher in the off-reserve areas than the protected areas throughout the study period. In general deforestation by cocoa farms was lower than deforestation by the other drivers.
The forest risk maps for each HIA showed that more than 70% of the forest cover were at low risk (very low and low risk categories). The forest at low risk were mostly found within the protected areas especially the national parks and conservation areas where entry is very restricted. The high-risk forest cover was found outside the protected areas and some few instances degraded portion within the protected areas.
This analysis a great step taken by the Cocoa and Forest Initiative to understand the current work been undertaken in the various landscapes and how interventions should be structured under CFI 2.0 to ensure that deforestation is halted, sustainable production enhanced and community livelihoods sustained. Whilst the interventions are beginning to manifest through satellite imagery analysis, it is also important to establish the methodology being used and repeat this analysis on a regular basis to help plan interventions, understand the typology of drivers, plan interventions and seek for investment and stakeholder support to realize the ambitions of the cocoa and forest initiative.
Public Policy Development and Enforcement Related to Forest Management
The National Implementation of Plan (2021-2025) of CFI which is in alignment with the Ghana Forest and Wildlife Policy, 2012 provides for the rehabilitation and restoration of degraded and forested landscapes through forest plantation development, enrichment planting and promotion of trees on farms. To achieve this, the Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy (GFPS) was developed as a 25 year (2016-2040) strategic plan to guide forest plantation development. Key achievements in 2022 are presented based on available data:
Forest Plantation Development
Under the GFPS, 25,000 ha of forest plantations are expected to be established annually through public and private sector efforts. The establishment strategies include the use of Modified Taungya System (MTS), Youth in Afforestation/Reforestation Project (YAP), donor projects and private sector initiatives. For the 2022 planting season, a total of 28,810 ha of forest plantations was established in both degraded on-forest reserve and off-reserve lands (Public sector: 23,185 ha and private sector: 5,625 ha).
Enrichment planting involves the introduction of high value indigenous timber species into degraded and poorly stocked compartments within the on-reserve forest landscape while retaining other economic species already existing. The primary objective is to enhance the commercial productivity and ecological functionality of the degraded forests. The target under the GFPS is 100,000ha over 20 years making an annual target of 5,000ha, of which 1,135 ha was achieved in 2022.
Trees on Farms (ToF)
This is an intervention geared towards achieving climate smart agriculture in Ghana. Under the ToF intervention, desirable timber species at prescribed quantities are supplied to smallholder farmers to be integrated within their farming systems. The target for trees on farm is 3.75 million seedlings over 25 years making 150,000 seedlings to be distributed annually. This is intended to improve carbon stocks, enhance biodiversity, improve yield and climate resilience of the farms. In 2022, a total of 1.46 million tree seedlings were supplied and incorporated into the farms of smallholder farmers. Additionally, CFI private cocoa and chocolate companies distributed 4,369,083 multi-purpose trees to small-holder farmers for on-farm planting as part their restoration action through agroforestry.
Green Ghana Day Initiative
The 2022 edition of the Green Ghana day was announced by the President of the Republic of Ghana on 1st March 2022 under the theme, ‘‘mobilising for a greener future’’ and with a target of 20 million seedlings to be planted. The 2022 edition of the Green Ghana day was held on 10th June, 2022. A total of 26,563,607 seedlings consisting of timber species and fruit trees were distributed.
Private sector contributed to this initiative with a sub-national event organized in Suhum with the participation of various private sector companies, traditional leaders, school children, and other stakeholders. A symbolic planting activity was undertaken with participants and a total of 100,000 seedlings distributed in all the priority landscapes in Ghana. Companies further contributed 100 watering cans to schools to support their tree planting efforts. The Green Ghana day is also contributing to achieving forest plantation, enrichment planting and trees on farm targets referenced under the GFPS.
Strengthening Landscape level investments with focus on priority areas
The Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) requires each signatory company to prepare and implement an action plan that illustrates the company’s progress toward meeting the eight commitments in the Joint Framework for Action). With the announcement of the CFI 2.0 strategy, companies are being challenged to raise their ambitions and indicate how they will accomplish these ambitions by stating the investments they will make to achieve these ambitions. Companies have aligned their action plans with activities within the six priority landscapes (known as Hotspot Intervention Areas-HIAs) in accordance with the initial agreement in the National Implementation Plan (NIP) 2018-2020 to coordinate CFI activities with the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP) to maximize resources and prevent duplication. WCF together with companies are continuously looking for innovative means of addressing challenges within the cocoa sector by developing partnerships, adopting approaches and tools that help bridge work that companies are doing through the direct supply chains and other landscape initiatives.
Despite these efforts, there is still little progress made in addressing landscape challenges with only up to 355 of farmers currently covered by company sustainability programs. For example, government through COCOBOD is actively treating diseased farms within the identified hotspots of CSSVD. Even though the spread of disease has been linked to the broken forest frontiers that serve as a natural barrier to the spread of disease, little is being done to restore this national barrier.
Overall, landscape-level investments acknowledge the interconnectivity of natural systems and the significance of approaching conservation and sustainable development holistically. These investments contribute to the long-term well- being of both ecosystems and human communities by addressing complex environmental challenges that exist in the landscape. Landscape-level investments are financial resources directed towards supporting and promoting sustainable practices, conservation initiatives, and development projects within a specific jurisdiction. These investments can take various forms, including public funding, private sector investments, philanthropic contributions, and international aid.
The Asunafo-Asutifi Landscape as a test case
The Asunafo-Asutifi Hotspot Intervention Area (HIA) is one of the six priority landscapes under the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme(GCFRP) and is important for the implementation of commitments under the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) Joint Framework for Action , both of which are aimed at reducing cocoa-driven deforestation in Ghana. The landscape accounts for about 10% of the national cocoa output (2020). It has also been identified as a major deforestation hotspot because of expansive agriculture, particularly cocoa, as well as mining and illegal logging. While cocoa productivity levels in the Asunafo-Asutifi landscape are reportedly higher than most cocoa landscapes in Ghana, the productivity potential has been reduced due to a high prevalence of moribund and diseased farms. This challenge is further exacerbated by a large population of poor and aging farmers, who cultivate at small scales, often with low yields.
Based on the baseline developed, four areas were identified for collective action. These include conservation and restoration, governance and capacity building, farmer livelihoods enhancement, and cocoa rehabilitation and agroforestry.
The proposed project will take a three-phase approach with dedicated activities and targets across each period. The planned activities and expected funding sources (from diverse stakeholders) for Phase I (2023-2025).
To address these challenges, the landscape actors agreed and contributed to the assessment of the landscape. This assessment was financed collectively by 8 companies which formed the basis for the development of a management plan for the landscape. During this period, extensive consultations with various stakeholder groups was done to understand the needs and aspirations of the stakeholders and also enable them to understand their role in addressing the challenges identified in the landscape.
Landscape level investments are one of the sure ways to secure and ensure that challenges are collectively dealt with all landscape stakeholders.
To make investments effective, there is a need to promote collaboration, efficiency, and shared responsibility among stakeholders, leading to more effective and integrated solutions for sustainable development.
Landscape Investments and Public Private Partnership in the HIAs
The CFI has made significant progress in 2022 with respect to collaboration with the public and private sectors and CSOs. 2022 was marked with significant progress made by government and private sector in building collaborations in the 6 HIAs (Fig. 2) as part of the GCFRP in Ghana. During this period formal partnerships were seen in four out of the six HIAs with 13 companies signing the addendums to the HIA framework agreements that existed in the various HIAs. This also paved way for further collaboration between the partners through participation in landscape consortium meetings, support to governance structures and renewed commitments in investments into landscape initiatives which was enshrined in the CFI 2.0 Strategy.
Based on an initial collaboration between 8 companies to undertake a feasibility assessment of the landscape, WCF and Proforest supported by the Forestry Commission and COCOBOD, developed the landscape management plan in the Asunafo/Asutifi HIA. The governance structure in the landscape has also been established and strengthened through a series of capacity building activities provided by the Forestry Commission, WCF, Proforest and other partners. The landscape consortium is in the process of developing.
Landscape stakeholders facilitated by WCF and Proforest with technical support from South Pole are exploring a mechanism for implementing the management of plan by developing an investment plan with a finance mechanism (loan and grant facility) to attract blended finance for the landscape.
Through this mechanism and implemented over a 10-year period with three phases, a total investment of 76 million Dollars will be attracted to fund activities including forest restoration and conservation, cocoa rehabilitation and climate smart cocoa, additional livelihoods, and creation of CREMAs. These interventions have contributed significantly to the Asunafo/Asutifi HIA which led to it being adjudged the best performing HIA in Ghana by the Ghana REDD+ secretariat with regards to emission reduction in 2022 and increased the HIA share of the emission reduction payments for 2022.
Ahafo-Ano South/Atwima Mponua/Atwima Nwabiagya HIA
The Atwima Mponua/Atwima Nwabiagya was one of the HIAs that benefited from the Accelerated REDD+ (AccelREDD) funds from the World Bank. It also benefited from the partnership between Cargill and Agro Eco to form Natural Resources Committees within the landscape to develop action plans on how to protect and sustainably manage natural resources by providing funding and support in the form of capacity building and sensitization activities.
Bibiani/Anwiaso/Sefwi Wiawso HIA
Among the 98 communities introduced to the formation of Natural Resources Committees by Agro Eco and Cargill, the Bibiani/Anhwiaso/Bekwai/Sefwi- Wiawso HIA had majority of communities involved. The committees were coached and provided with funds to develop and implement action plans.
Under the USAID and Mars Inc partnership, tree improvement activities were carried out within the Landscape to enhance tree cover in on and off farm areas. The project focused on educating farmers on tree planting but specifically on forest policy, tree tenure system as well as benefits associated with having trees on your farms and the benefit sharing systems involved.
In 2022, P4F facilitated the creation of a consortium within the Juaboso/Bia HIA with the inclusion of COCOBOD, FC, eight (8) signatory companies of CFI and community members to oversee activities including forest restoration, cocoa rehabilitation and agroforestry programs. P4F collaborated with Touton to bring together various stakeholders to tackle carbon emission in the Juaboso/Bia HIA. They also partnered with private companies including Agro- Eco, SNV and Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) in piloting the governance structures in the landscape. Safeguarding farmers’ livelihood, the mobilizing more for climate (MOMO4C) initiative led by Tropenbos Ghana, developed capacity building programs for farmers and community members with innovative business ideas as well as engaging financial institutions to secure funding for the start- up of these businesses. Framework agreements were signed with HIA/ Hotspot Management Board, Forestry Commission and COCOBOD which are tied to commitments and benefit sharing of each stakeholder under the GCFRP.
The CFI, its signatory companies and other partners have shown commitment and zeal in tackling deforestation in the cocoa supply chain while keeping the interest of the cocoa farmer in mind.
This is evident by the various sensitization programs, capacity-building activities, education, tree planting activities, farmer trainings and investments that have been carried out in the past year.
Emission Reduction & Carbon Commitments
Ghana’s economy is largely agrarian and therefore highly sensitive to climate change impacts. Ghana aims to mitigate an absolute 64 MtCO2eq by 2030, with 24.6 MtCO2eq being an unconditional and 39.4 MtCO2eq as the conditional target (EPA, 2022). Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement sets a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% below business- as-usual (BAU) levels by 2030. The country also aims to achieve a further 10% reduction conditional on international support.
Ghana has shown commitment to achieving targets through sustainable agriculture programs aimed to promote agroforestry and conservation agriculture, and through the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) program. Ghana’s REDD+ program is an important part of the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as deforestation and forest degradation are significant sources of carbon emissions in Ghana. Through the REDD+ program, Ghana has developed several initiatives committed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promoting sustainable forest management, and providing economic and social benefits to local communities. These initiatives include:
- Developing a National REDD+ Strategy and Investment Plan, which outlines Ghana’s approach to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and sets out strategies for enhancing forest carbon
- Implementing a Forest Reference Emmission (FREL) which establishes a baseline for measuring Ghana’s emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and provides a framework for measuring progress in reducing emissions.
- Developing a benefit-sharing mechanism that ensures that the economic and social benefits of the REDD+ program are shared fairly among communities, landowners, and other
- Strengthening forest governance and law enforcement, in order to prevent illegal logging and other activities that contribute to deforestation and forest
Under the GCFRP, PES mechanisms are developed to provide economic incentives for forest conservation and restoration. In 2022, the World Bank announced that through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), Ghana had been paid $4.86 million for reducing 972,456 tonnes of carbon emission.
The payment is the first of four under Ghana’s ERPA to demonstrate potential for leveraging results-based payments for carbon credits.