ASSESSING THE LIVELIHOOD GAINS OF FOREST HOST COMMUNITIES AND THE MANAGEMENT OF THE BOBIRI FOREST RESERVE (BFR) IN GHANA
Abstract: The Study assesses the livelihood gains of forest host communities and management of the Bobiri Forest Reserve in Ghana. The communal/admitted rights of the people of Kubease to the Reserve allow the locals to collect certain quantities of specific NTFPs for personal use without any payment. However, if these NTFPs are to be collected in larger quantities for commercial purposes, a permit is needed. The communal/admitted rights of the Community to the ecosystem services of the Reserve make them important stakeholders in its management. Over the years however, Co-Management practices of the Reserve have been that of consultation with limited exchange and/or no involvement of the Community. There is also the lack of legislative support in co-managing the BFR. The resultant effects have been the over exploitation and continual decline of the ecosystem services provided by the Reserve as well as an unequal power distribution between the resource users, resource managers and other stakeholders. The Study therefore proposes the development of Co-Management guidelines that have the capacity to empower poor resource users to sustainably manage the Forest resources together with the resource managers and other stakeholders. Here, Co-Management is seen as a type of partnership between non-governmental and governmental natural resource users and managers in which management is formally shared, usually under an agreement. Sharing of management responsibilities is seen as a means of reducing the over exploitation of the Forest resources and hence resource sustainability. The Study concludes that there is the need to put in place the right institutional and legislative framework that allows the knowledge and understanding of all stakeholders to be reflected in making and implementing sustainable forest management decisions. Here, the resource users are important, as they directly tend to have a greater knowledge of their local environment. The resource users position as disadvantaged groups should therefore be enhanced by giving them direct representation in decision making and allowing them to benefit from collective action. The Study draws insight from Co-Management approaches and is guided by qualitative investigation. Semi-structured in-depth interviews, participant observation, focus group discussion and other secondary data sources are the methods applied.
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