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The Tamale Declaration: a regreening plan for northern Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

An international workshop has called for an integrated plan to regreen the region.

The climax of the international workshop held late November 2018 in Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s Northern Region, was when the nearly 60 participants issued an urgent call for a ‘comprehensive Regreening Plan’.

The Plan would see the integration of trees with crops and livestock across northern Ghana, which they say is needed to ‘restore landscapes and improve livelihoods’ in the three regions that comprise the country’s northern belt.

Their call was addressed to all key policy-makers in Ghana’s Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, including the Northern Development Authority, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, traditional authorities, and also the ministries of Land and Natural Resources, of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and of Food and Agriculture. The workshop called on these institutions to allocate budget and incentive systems to support the Regreening Plan.

The theme of regreening is a crucial one in Ghana, which is one of eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa involved in the ambitious Regreening Africa project, which is funded by the European Union. The aim is to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households and across 1 million hectares. In Ghana, Regreening Africa is targeting 40,000 households on 90,000 hectares of land to be restored by 2022.

As part of the Bonn Challenge, in 2015 Ghana also pledged to restore 2 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030, in addition to two previous land-restoration pledges by the Government: the Forestry Development Master Plan launched in 1996, which aimed to plant trees on 200,000 hectares of unproductive forest land and the savannah zone by 2020; and the National Forest Plantation Strategy, which aims to rehabilitate 235,000 hectares of forest plantations and enrich planting of 100,000 hectares of under-stocked forest reserves by 2040.

Fergus Sinclair, leader of Systems Science at World Agroforestry, who led one of the sessions at the workshop, said that, ‘With such ambitious targets to meet, this multi-stakeholder workshop in Tamale — Restoring Landscapes for Resilient Livelihoods in Northern Ghana — could not have come at a more opportune time.’

A broad range of perspectives and expertise
The participants came from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and from all over Ghana, representing a broad range of perspectives, backgrounds and professions: national and regional governments; donors; international and grassroots non-governmental organizations; farmers’ organizations; and one paramount chief.

Aftermath of a fire. Photo: World Agroforestry/Gloria Adeyiga

While there was consensus about the urgent need for land restoration, it was abundantly clear that there are still major challenges to be overcome: gender relations and imbalances in decision-making powers; the nature of land and tree tenure among different ethnic groups and in different regions; policy and legislative gaps in protecting and managing trees in the landscape and the environment as a whole; negative impacts of fires; indiscriminate cutting of trees (including for charcoal production); and clearing for agriculture and mining.

Paramount Chief Bong Naaba Baba Salifu Alemnyarun of the Bongo Traditional Area expressed his concern that the power of traditional authorities to protect the environment had been whittled away over the years.

“If we, the chiefs, had all the powers like our forefathers used to do, there wouldn’t be any destruction of the environment; nobody would cut a tree [without permission],” he said.

While acknowledging the role of chiefs in enforcing rules, there was also consensus that it is important to vest powers of managing trees with farmers and ensure that regulations do not stifle their ability to benefit so that there is an incentive for regreening.

It was noted that there were bylaws to protect trees and the environment but they were not enforced, prompting a call for lawmakers from the Attorney General’s office to attend future workshops to address these issues.

Shea tree in parkland. Photo: World Agroforestry/Emilie Smith Dumont

Analysis of the causes of land degradation revealed a lack of coordination, weak political will and poor funding, legislative and policy gaps, restrictive sociocultural norms, economic barriers, and a shortage of scientific evidence. Nevertheless, they expressed determination to overcome the challenges.

After the workshop, Gloria Adeyiga, a researcher with the Forestry Research Institute who is working with the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) in Ghana, said she felt optimistic about the prospects for regreening the northern region.

“The workshop highlighted some concerns I’ve always had about issues around regreening,” Adeyiga said. “But I learned that others share these concerns and that we can address them for more sustainable interventions and long-term impact.”

“The future of land restoration and improving livelihoods lies in building evidence through participatory research,” said World Agroforestry’s Emilie Smith Dumont. She has coordinated WAFFI in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and is the focal point for Regreening Africa in the region.

One session presented land-restoration projects on a map of northern Ghana, revealing many separate projects with similar goals. This highlighted the need for better communication and coordination.

Patrice Savadogo, who is taking over Smith Dumont’s role next year, emphasized that restoration, ‘also depends on increasing coordination between efforts to address common bottlenecks in activities to increase tree cover. Recognizing this, as we did together at the workshop, is the first step in overcoming them.’

Aaron B. Aduna, chief basin officer for the White Volta River with the Water Resources Commission, said the workshop was excellent in its diversity of participants and in how it generated discussion.

“Looking at the calibre of people gathered here,” said Aduna, “I am optimistic that a lot will be achieved in the regreening of Ghana.”

Aduna added that it is time that people paid attention to the importance of regreening and to trees in the landscape because, he said, “If there is no forest, there is no water.”

For more information, please contact Patrice Savadogo: [email protected]

The workshop was a collaboration between Regreening Africa and the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI). WAFFI is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Regreening Africa is a five-year project that seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services. Partners in Regreening Africa and WAFFI include Catholic Relief Services, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), European Union, Economics of Land Degradation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability, Tree Aid, World Agroforestry, and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


By Joan Baxter, originally published by The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

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  • Sharing better, for better research

Sharing better, for better research

In Nalma village, Nepal, land is used for rice fields, gardens and housing. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman walks home from the fields in Nalma, Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

For the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), a research for development (R4D) program, engaging in knowledge sharing fundamentally conditions the program’s effectiveness and impact, both in the policy environment and on the ground. Better sharing leads to better research.

That is why FTA, in recent months, has invested heavily in knowledge sharing. For us at FTA, knowledge sharing is never a one-way street, but an exchange. As we share our knowledge with stakeholders, we learn just as much, and we use that learning to set our next research priorities and better design the research that we do, to ensure greater legitimacy and relevance.

1. Knowledge sharing starts with better explaining the work we do, how we do it, with whom and for what.

FTA’s proposal for Phase 2 (2017-2022) amounts to over 500 pages. That’s the length needed to provide full details on a multimillion dollar six-year program as wide-ranging as FTA, with work from tree genetic resources to management, value chains, institutions and governance.

But not everyone can afford to spend a full week reading the whole thing. This is why we have created, with the program’s scientists, a set of brochures that explains in a nutshell the work being done and the work that we aim to develop across FTA. Six brochures have already been published and the last two will be released before the end of the year, including one on the brand new Flagship 2, which has just been rated “strong” by the Independent Science and Partner Council (ISPC) after a recent resubmission.

Read more: What is FTA?

To find the brochures, please take a look at our new webpage. We hope that in turn, resource partners will have clearer minds on what we do and what we bring on the ground, and will be even more keen to invest in FTA.

2. Knowledge sharing means engaging with key partner institutions with an aim to bridge the world of research with the world of development and people on the ground.

This means being able to understand, confront and match the various demands from development, and what research can supply and how. Three key events in September enabled us to put this into practice.

First, on Sept. 5-8 in Bern, Switzerland, FTA participated in the first International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development, in two panel sessions organized between the CGIAR and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

This provided a means to better understand Switzerland’s priorities in terms of development actions, as well as to test the interest in joint works with Swiss private sector actors on sustainable value chains and responsible finance, and on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

FTA Director Vincent Gitz speaks during the IUFRO subplenary session. Photo by Bethany Davies/CIFOR

The quality of the exchanges in Bern was very high and this provided a strong impetus for FTA to engage even more with Swiss upstream partners, in particular with universities such as the University of Bern and ETH Zurich, to downstream actors, and with SDC. As we will take this on board, this means working toward even more relevant and effective research in FTA.

Second, on Sept. 18-22 in Freiburg, Germany, more than 40 FTA scientists participated in some way in the historic International Union of Forest Research Organizations’ (IUFRO) 125th Anniversary Congress. At the congress, FTA and IUFRO cohosted a subplenary session on research priorities titled “Research for sustainable development: Forests, trees and agroforestry”. If you missed it, you will soon be able to watch it here.

The session enabled us to take the scientific forest research community out of its comfort zone, to put in question the priorities it should focus on, and look at how it should work in light of today’s development challenges. With research becoming increasingly specialized, the overarching challenge is to integrate the different dimensions of sustainable development and different objectives into the research questions, research methods and solutions we develop in practice. And to integrate research “in” development. This is easier said than done, but it will definitively serve as a guide for FTA’s internal priority setting, which will give primers to such integrated initiatives.

Read more: What are the priorities for relevant, legitimate and effective forest and tree research? Lessons from the IUFRO congress

In Nalma village, Nepal, land is used for rice fields, gardens and housing. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Third, FTA participated in a three-day high-level conference on food security and nutrition in an era of climate change, coorganized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Quebec. The conference showed Quebec’s potential in terms of supporting international development, especially in francophone areas such as West Africa. One of the highlights was the participation of First Nations and Inuit representatives.

Food security challenges for people in northern Canada are already considerable, and climate change has important impacts, as it will have for many other indigenous groups worldwide. This is testimony to the immense systemic changes that are ongoing right now because of climate change. We need to properly consider social impacts and dimensions to enable positive and durable change.

We need to embed this in our research, and in fact reconsider the way we do research: doing research with indigenous peoples and marginalized groups, and considering them not as the object of research, but including them in research as generators of knowledge in their own right. Here, engagement is a synonym for better learning and more legitimacy.

3. Knowledge sharing means engaging with policy and multistakeholder platforms.

In November and December FTA will be mobilized in three multistakeholder platforms of global importance, each dealing with one key impact area of FTA: food security and nutrition, climate change, and sustainable landscapes.

First is the 44th plenary session of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the highest food security governance body on the planet, which runs from Oct. 9–13. FTA is coorganizing two side events: the first focuses on feminism, forests and food security, with key Swedish partners, and the second focuses on priorities along the R4D continuum for improving the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in food security and nutrition, with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Netherlands, the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) and Tropenbos International.

FTA scientist Terry Sunderland discussed the HLPE report at the IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress. Photo by Bethany Davies/CIFOR

And after having heavily contributed to the High Level Panel of experts (HLPE) report providing the evidence base to the CFS negotiations on Sustainable Forestry For Food Security and Nutrition, FTA will participate in the policy round table itself, alongside governments and all actors gathered at CFS. This illustrates the double role of a R4D program like FTA: feeding multistakeholder discussions and decisions with evidence and knowledge (inclusively generated), and at the same time being an active stakeholder in the implementation of solutions, alongside all partners.

Then in November, FTA is set to engage further through several events with climate actors at the Fiji-led United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany. FTA will aim to provide, with partners, a focus on gender, on REDD+ and on finance for sustainable value chains.

Finally, in December, FTA will be in Bonn once again for the major global multistakeholder platform on landscapes, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). There FTA will aim to feed knowledge and organize discussions on forests and water, and on land restoration.

While knowledge generation remains the core of FTA’s work, we believe that it may not be effective without efficient knowledge sharing and stakeholder engagement. Such an investment is necessary for a R4D program, which aims at the uptake of solutions on the ground. It is also synergetic with the research itself. It confronts us daily with new questions, and with the various beliefs, views and expectations of stakeholders.

If we genuinely measure the implications of the feedback we receive, on the research we do and its very design, then knowledge sharing and engagement is not simply adding “feel-good moments” to research that has already been done: It is fundamental to the quality of the research that is to come.

By Vincent Gitz, FTA Director 


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