Forest Conservation Heroes

An enterprising group of Ghanaian cocoa farmers wins our 2018 Community Honoree Award

Demonstrating the maxim that there is strength in numbers, the cocoa farmers of the Juaboso and Bia districts in Western Ghana joined forces to transform an entire landscape. The members of 36 communities, who live across an area covering 29,000 hectares (71,660 acres), established a landscape management board (LMB) to oversee the planning, implementation, and monitoring of sustainable practices on their cocoa farms.  The results have been nothing short of remarkable—which is why the Rainforest Alliance has bestowed this year’s Community Honoree Award on this impressive group.

 

landscape management board meeting

 

More than 3,033 cocoa farms in the area have earned Rainforest Alliance certification, and the LMB offers climate-change education courses to community members with an eye to making farms more resilient. Collectively, these producers have been able to protect high-value conservation areas in 10 communities—safeguarding precious biodiversity in a region where forests are facing a host of threats—and boosted their carbon stocks by planting 58,600 tree seedlings in areas that were previously degraded.

 

land management bureau training

 

The economic impact of their hard work has been just as impressive: In five years, they have been able to increase their cocoa yields from an average of 250 kilograms per hectare to 800 kilograms per hectare, and they are enjoying price premiums to boot. Plus, they’ve diversified their income streams by establishing other forest enterprises, such as beekeeping operations and the rearing of small livestock (such as the grasscutter) for meat. Not only do these activities generate money that gets farmers through the lean times between harvests, but they’ve also helped other members of the community, creating work for local carpenters who were tasked with constructing beehives and other equipment.

These improvements require more than just time and effort—they require money. Together the communities mobilized funds to achieve their goals. The LMB is becoming an institution that can stand on its own, illustrating another important facet of sustainability—one that allows these communities to continue to build on the progress for generations to come.

 

 

Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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