Africa

Improving Livelihood and Biodiversity Conservation around the Kwabre-Tanoé Forest


Tanoé River deliniating the Kwabre and Tanoe Forests © Sundia

- By Noe

 

Watch this short video presenting Noé’s work in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire! to learn about the community-based natural resource governance in Ghana and discover how the production of organic coconut oil contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and the economic development of local communities.

Forests are crucial not only to flora and fauna but also to rural populations, keeping many people out of extreme poverty. In Africa, 50% of the rural poor (<1.25 USD/day) live in or around forests. Rural households living near forested areas derive as much as 22 percent of their income from forest sources according to the Poverty and Environment Network (PEN). However, in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, more than 75% of the forest area has disappeared over the past 30 years. To tackle challenges of biodiversity loss due to illegal harvesting and unsustainable exploitation, it is crucial to support a development model that combines economic development and care for nature.

In Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, Noé is supporting a pro-biodiversity value chain development project, contributing to the protection of the Trans-Border Community Forest of Kwabre-Tanoé. This forest is home to an exceptional biodiversity as it is the last habitat of the Roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway), one of the 25 most endangered primates of the world, as well as the White-Naped Mangabey (Cercocebus lunulatus), and possibly Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus (Piliocolobus waldronae) which may already be extinct in the wild.


 Traditional gari processing, Dohouan community © Noe

Lacking alternative income-generating activities, local communities are finding it difficult to sustainably manage their own natural resources, making them increasingly vulnerable. In response to a request from local communities for support in the preservation of the forest, WAPCA and CSRS are supporting the community organizations, Ankasa-Tano CREMA in Ghana and the FAIVG in Côte d’Ivoire, to manage the natural resources in and around the forest.

This project aims to demonstrate that the development of sustainable and profitable Green Value Chains for the benefit of local population is an effective way to achieve a better biodiversity conservation. The project’s contribution is anchored on four specific objectives. These include the development of sustainable value chains and the strengthening of the community-led governance structures including by setting up a Conservation Fund to ensure their self-financing in the medium run. Further, the project is focused on ensuring better trans-border biodiversity conservation through initiating the creation of the first community-managed trans-border reserve with Ghanaian and Ivorian authorities; organizing forest patrols and planting trees to delineate the forest. Lastly, the project seeks to build capacity of civil society and disseminate project lessons-learnt.

The economic component of the project is geared towards strengthening the coconut oil, cocoa, cassava and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) value chains from production to market, applying global best practices and sustainability standards. This is made possible by improving crop yields and sustaining a healthy ecosystem through certified organic agricultural practices; improving incomes through minimum floor price and an additional premium, fair working conditions, and respect of human rights; ensuring a long-term local positive impact through the construction of community-owned processing centres, the establishment of partnerships with private sector and investment in Conservation Funds in addition to empowering women through capacity building and formation of Cooperatives.

Project Delivery and Achievement

In 2017, Noe, through its Man and Nature Programme started working in partnership with WAPCA and CSRS to develop selected value chains in an equitable and inclusive manner, allowing income maximization for the populations.

Private businesses and value chain development experts were consulted to assess gaps and opportunities for development of organic coconut oil and cocoa value chains in Ghana and the cassava and NTFPs value chains in Côte d’Ivoire. Further, partnerships were formalized with the private businesses, including the Savannah Fruits Company (SFC) for coconut oil and Yayra Glover Ltd. (YGL) for cocoa, to provide technical support, strengthen and certify the value chains organic and offer access to a fair market.

 

Farmer and processor cooperatives were formed and empowered through trainings and provision of equipment to improve production standards and practices. To ensure a decent income for farmers, contracts are signed between the private businesses and the producers, guaranteeing a price higher than the market price.

As part of ensuring project sustainability and ownership for the local community, community-owned processing centres for Virgin Coconut Oil and Cassava products (such as gari) are established and installed with improved equipment to increase production and add value to the raw product. A Conservation Fund has also been established, allowing the producers and/or private businesses to contribute a Conservation premium, giving the community the means to implement conservation actions and become financially self-sufficient beyond the project.

Results achieved by the project on the economic component since 2017 are summarized below:

The project has inspired hope among the local communities as they see the tangible benefits it brings to them. “The opening of a coconut oil processing centre here in our community will reduce poverty and provide employment for the youth, enabling people to work and get money to support their needs and get out of poverty” said Rebecca Tanoe, a member of the organic coconut oil processor group, at the opening ceremony of the new processing centre in March 2020. Similarly, Frank Darko Kofi Alia, Patrol Team Leader, attests to the benefits of the Conservation Agreement signed between the CREMA and the Savannah Fruits Company, “For every coconut that is bought, we get 1 pesewa extra which goes into the CREMA Conservation Fund. So, all the communities that are involved get money to protect the forest”. In Côte d’Ivoire, a member of the FAIVG says “Thanks to you, our women don't get tired anymore as a buyer comes to buy their gari in the village here. Your cassava is good [organic practices using an improved variety]. The whole village wants to produce organic cassava”.


 Cassava cooperative, Dohouan community/First harvest from the demonstration plot © CSRS

Lessons learned

So far, the project has achieved remarkable success but not without challenges which has offered opportunities for learning, adapting, and improving as we progressed. Some of the lessons learnt include the importance of strengthening community-based governance structure, which has been one of the high points for this project. Every conservation and community enterprise requires a strong governance structure, capacity development, strong partnership, and community ownership, to ensure sustainability. Another major factor that has driven success is supporting existing value chains which are known or cultivated by the local people. Partnerships with the private sector has been critical in ensuring technical support and facilitating market access in the long-term. Lastly, local communities’ participation, including youth and women, in addition to constantly monitoring indicators and documenting impact while putting into account delays and budget constraints are instrumental for successful project implementation.

In 2012, the Roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway) was seen for the first time in the Kwabre-Tanoé Forest. Only some 200 were known to exist in the wild, and the species was thought to be completely extinct from the forest. With this discovery, came renewed hope for the Roloway and through CEPF support since 2017, this hope is increasing – observations and reports by local community patrol team has shown that their numbers may be on the rise for the first time in a while. While this species still remains on the endangered species list, the support from CEPF is a step in the right direction and has greatly reinforced conservation efforts, while at the same time bringing on board the indispensable development of profitable and sustainable economic activities for the communities. Thanks to CEPF, AFD, Sofi Tucker Foundation, Pachamamaï and Ciel Azur for supporting these inspiring results.

Get to know more about Noé’s work by reading our report on the development of pro-biodiversity value chains as a complementary and beneficial approach to the conservation strategy of Protected Areas in West and Central Africa.