Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) develops eco-tourism initiatives and community protected areas within Ghana in order to support economic development and natural resource protection. The NCRC assists communities and the private sector to manage lands to maximize carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation. It facilitates the introduction of more sustainable methods for the domestic charcoal trade in rural Ghana. NCRC also provides expertise to communities, the private sector and government on protecting endangered plant and animal species. Furthermore, it promotes carbon trading and payments for ecosystem services in the sub-region, as well as solar energy solutions linked to conservation initiatives for rural communities. NCRC work to build expertise mainly within the West African sub-region regarding climate change and carbon issues, but also in other countries in East Africa such as Ethiopia.

Within the context of the Ecosystem Alliance, NCRC is focussing on the upscaling and replication of Community Resources Management Areas *CREMA) in the Cocao landscape in the South West of Ghana. In this area  it works on topics such as climate smart cocoa production, red list species and REDD+ .

Title: Capacity building for CREMA communities for resilient ecosystem services

Start: 1-7-2012 end: 30-6-2015. Budget: 257.692

The project targets the conservation of moist semi-deciduous and dry forests in the Brong Ahafo and Western regions in Ghana. These forests are being rapidly degraded by food and tree crops, especially cocoa, as well as by unsustainable logging both inside and outside forest reserves. This threatens the survival of the marginal rural farmers. This marginalization is further enhanced by the rapid advance of global warming and associated climate change.   The project is an up scaling of efforts initiated by NCRC in the area under the White-necked Rockfowl program. This effort outlined  a multi year program for the conservation of the white-necked rockfowl, a highly threatened IUCN red list species. The program focused on ecological and socio-economic studies, building local capacity for conservation, and supporting livelihood programs in the rural communities including an initiation of ecotourism enterprise fringing the project area. In a broader context the project extended conservation attention to all species of conservation priority in this particular area notably endangered species such as chimpanzees, bongos, forest buffaloes and yellow-backed duikers.The program resulted in the creation of a formally recognized community resources management area (CREMA) -  the White-necked Rockfowl CREMA  - of around 40.000 ha.   The new project aims to further strengthen and expand the ethic of sustainable farming and livelihoods especially in the sphere of cocoa production. It aims to add 35.000 ha under CREMA regime in which 34 communities will be involved. These CREMAs are strategically placed between National Park Bia and a number of Game and Forest reserves and as such will function as buffer and wildlife corridors for many species of conservation concern. The project will ensure that governing and management structures of the evolving CREMAs are enhanced to reflect efficiency and effectiveness in the management of natural resources. Achieving this will entail intensive interaction through discussion with local communities on the approach to consolidating biodiversity and improve livelihoods.  This is accompanied by capacity building of communities towards participatory decision making and collective commitment to achieve sustainable natural resource management goals.  It seeks to bring on stream viable economic and development opportunities that will go hand-in-hand with biodiversity protection. This will include facilitating the identification of economic activities akin to specific communities. Identified opportunities will be developed, practically and linked to the most competitive private business entities who aim at establishing and enhancing their green image. CBOs and local government authorities capacity on facilitating sustainable economic opportunities will be improved along the lines of sustainable resource use.   As part of national lobby and policymaking the project will make available information and literature relevant to the establishment and smooth running of CREMAs. This information will be collected from existing literature, glaring successful practices and a round-table solicitation of information from partner CREMA implementers. The project will finally share this information with the relevant stakeholders and interest groups with the aim of informing best practices to CREMA implementation.   Main outcomes are:   35,000 hectares covered by ecosystem management plans including measures for climate adaptation. 34 empowered communities with specific attention for gender balance in all relevant decision making processes.  10.000 households have adopted more sustainable land/better resource use practices in which womens access to and benefit sharing of natural resource use are key  At least one policy-oriented report on the experiences on CREMA implementation with the aim to strengthen and further promote the CREMA  framework as a tool for community based management of natural resources.

Expected livelihood results

1) livelihoods of 2,000 households improved due to direct project support (equipment, livestock, seeds, and infrastructure).

2) Identify and prepare best management strategies for promising community economic opportunities within 34 CREMA communities.

3) Identify sustainable agri and non agri businesses with the greatest livelihood impact.