GEBR project in the Bia Biosphere Reserve, Ghana

Ghana’s economy has previously been characterized by high rates of inflation, dwindling foreign reserves, and excessive public debt teamed with fluctuating growth. Nevertheless, Ghana is currently one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a chance of halving its extreme poverty by 2015. With the sustainability of Ghana’s growth relying primarily on natural resources, the importance of conservation has become even more imperative. At the current rate of environmental degradation, these resources are already highly threatened. The country’s economic activities, as well as the population’s livelihood, depend on natural resources that are being depleted at an alarming rate. The GEBR project proposes alternative livelihoods for local communities with the aim of reducing pressure on forests, lands adjacent to the protected areas, and other vital ecosystem services.

Who is involved?

As is the case with all three countries under the GEBR project, various stakeholders are involved from a wide range of sectors. Stakeholders include: The Wildlife Services Division, Environmental Protection Agencies, KOICA, District Assemblies, Chiefs and other Community Leaders, researchers, scientists, academia, and finally, members of the local communities around the biosphere reserve, who are also direct beneficiaries of the project.

The Protected Areas Management Advisory Board (PAMAB) is one of the local community based organisations currently collaborating with the GEBR project.

What is the biodiversity business development plan?

Potential biodiversity businesses in the Bia.

GEBR has designated four specific alternative livelihood activities towards a green economy: palm oil production, snail gathering, apiculture (bee keeping) and mushroom farming. For these biodiversity businesses to succeed, the stakeholders involved must take ownership of the project as a prerequisite. Socio-economic and market surveys are completed to guarantee a precise analysis is carried out regarding the opportunities and limitations involved with the selected businesses. Project activities ensuring a successful development of biodiversity businesses include: livelihood assessments, community livelihood training workshops, provisions of livelihood support (tools, equipment, seeds etc.), and annual progress review workshops.

How will it be implemented?

A stakeholder validation workshop on baseline studies in the Bia Biosphere Reserve.

The main project implementers are the EPA and Wildlife Services Commission, who are also members of the MAB National Committee. Business sustainability post project completion is ensured through a number of practical skill training programmes in managing, accounting and marketing. This allows the project beneficiaries to run their businesses effectively and efficiently, as well as guaranteeing future sustainability in terms of activities, outputs and results.  Project beneficiaries are instructed to invest profits back into their businesses in order to secure capital base sustainability. Business plans and documents are drawn up to attract investors post completion. Ultimately, government participation is essential regarding the design, implementation and monitoring of the GEBR project.

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