Fire-management and post-fire restoration with local community collaboration in Ghana

 Executive Agency: IUCN Central and West Africa Program (PACO) 

Overall Coordinator Dr. Martin NGANJE
Location: Ghana 
Starting Date: November 2005
Duration: 36 Months (under special extension to December 2010)

Implementing Partners: Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) 
Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC)
Funding Agency: International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)

Project objective
Efficient community based wildfire management contributes to restoration and sustainable management of timber and other products in Ghanaian fire prone areas.

Project outputs 
The project achieved its five outputs namely:
1. The relationship between use of resources by rural communities and effective fire management was determined;
2. The roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in fire management in Ghana were determined;
3. The mechanisms for effective community based fire management were developed and implemented;
4. Fire degraded areas were rehabilitated by using valuable mostly species determined by the local communities;
5. The gaps in existing legislation on community based fire management were identified and disseminated.

Project target districts and communities
Project activities were carried out in the following districts and communities:
Dormaa District: Asunsu No1, Twumkrom, Abonsrakrom
Mpraeso District: Nsuta, Gyaekasa, Measo
Juaso District: Kowereso, Aberewapong, Bebome
Begoro District: Besetuom, Ahomasu,Kumfrefre
Winneba/ Cape Coast District: Mankuadze and Komenda

Project brief and impact 
The ‘Fire Management and Post Fire Restoration with Local Community Collaboration Project’ started in Ghana in November 2005. The project was funded by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) with IUCN as its Executing Agency and FORIG and RMSC as its Ghanaian implementing Agencies. The project sought to increase benefits to local communities from forest products in Ghanaian fire prone areas by promoting mastery of fire management interventions. This was perceived to ensure the protection of timber, non timber forest products (NTFPs) as well as the restoration of fire degraded lands with adapted local tree species. The project built on previous fire projects in Ghana and filled gaps that were not sufficiently addressed. It revealed that with adequate wildfire management, significant gains can be made to the national economy with enormous livelihood benefits for local communities. The project consequently advocated the importance of community involvement in fire management. It enhanced the capacity of local communities in several project areas through training in fire management, provision of fire fighting wares, support in post-fire restoration efforts and more.

It was revealed that wherever people had a direct interest in protecting their natural resources, unplanned wildfires would be reduced. Interactions with local community members revealed that they will mobilize themselves to prevent wildfires when they acknowledge that by so doing, they will benefit in maintaining their natural resources, and consequently their livelihood. The current end of project report covers the period from November 2005 to December 2010. It however also captures contingency interventions undertaken just after December 2010, more specifically the April 2011 end of project workshop in Kumasi. The referred workshop sensitised and enhanced capacity in the use of the adopted Guidelines and Manual for Community-Based Fire Management in Ghana. The Manual can be downloaded here: http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2011-099.pdf

The project successfully undertook the following key interventions:

Socio-economic surveys in the project target areas;
Fire and livelihood surveys in the project target areas;
Surveys on local and community laws with an impact on fire;
Surveys on local and national institutions dealing with fire;
Research on fire behaviour and production of a community Fire Manual.

Field operations included (a) the successful formation and promotion of community fire volunteer squads in the project areas, (b) establishment of nurseries that have been supplying seedlings for rehabilitation in degraded areas, mainly around the Pamu-Berekum Forest Reserve, (c) development of local benefit sharing Agreements (land tenure convention with government) through a Taungya scheme for tree plantings in the government forest reserve, (d) production of a map of the target planting area following ground-truthing exercises, etc. More than 250,000 seedlings of various indigenous tree species were produced by beneficiary communities and are being used for restoration efforts on 400 hectares of land in the Pamu-Berekum Forest Reserve.

NB: The project had 18 months as no cost extension period, authorised to accommodate forest restoration efforts which depended on the weather elements of rainfall and the length of the dry season.

Perspective
A national fires experts and stakeholders workshop held in Kumasi in April 2011 to promote the community fire guidelines and manual recommended amongst others, that; communities be supported to take ownership of responsibilities in wildfire management through behavioral change approaches; training in the use of the guidelines and manual document be organized; that the fire guidelines and manual should be simplified into a more pictorial format to make itself explanatory, including its translation into local languages and dialects; and that the tool should be demonstrably implemented in the country. This led to the development of a follow-up project with the RMSC to achieve the preceding recommendations.

For more information, please contact Dr. Martin NGANJE: