A Project aimed at conserving biodiversity, build climate resilience and reduce emission from land use changes in the Savannah, high forest and transition zones in Ghana, has been launched in Accra.
The European Union-Landscapes and Environmental Agility across the Nation (LEAN) Project seeks to address three structural barriers that have historically hindered efforts by government, civil society organisations and the private sector to halt land degradation and deforestation through the uptake of landscape approaches.
The 5-million euro LEAN Project will also directly support national efforts to conserve biodiversity, improve the livelihoods of small-holder farmers, while implementing integrated landscape management models in three priority landscapes through functional and sustainable landscape governance structures.
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Musah Abu-Juam, the Technical Director in Charge of Forestry at the Ministry, commended the EU Delegation for their continuous support to the country.
He said the Ministry was also grateful for the EU's support to the FLEGT license processes and its commitment to see to the implementation of the voluntary partnership agreement.
The Minister said the forest contributed significantly to the socio-economic development of the country and it provided valuable environmental services, which were difficult to quantify in monetary values in some cases.
He said for a country like Ghana, about 70 per cent of local community members, particularly women, depend on the forest for their food and energy requirement and for that reason, sustainable management of the country's natural resources remained at the heart of the Ministry.
"Unfortunately, these resources continue to be threatened by factors both internal and external to us," he added.
He said the whole nation has taken a firm stance to fight the degradation of the country's land, water and forest and would need the support to make the effort a success.
Mr Jinapor said it was therefore gratifying to note that the LEAN Project was in line with the objectives and strategies underpinning the Ghana Forest and Wildlife Policy 2012.
He said the restoration of degraded areas and the improvement of livelihoods of community members was a laudable effort as it was very complimentary to some existing project interventions.
Mr Roberto Schiliro, Team Lead Infrastructures and Sustainable Development at the EU Delegation to Ghana, said the Project was funded under the EU's sustainable landscape initiative, supporting the promotion of integrated landscape approaches and investments in sustainable land management.
He said the Project would tackle ecosystem preservation from a broader perspective than just protected areas and wildlife and forest products trafficking, by looking into working landscapes, alternative livelihood opportunities, and opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
He said in particular, the Project would focus on research and use of new technologies to improve soil fertility and making threshing of grains and cereals more efficient and productive.
"By contributing to and promoting sustainable landscape management, the LEAN Project is in line with the EU Green Deal, which is a new growth strategy promoting economic sustainability by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities and making the transition just and inclusive for all," he added.
He said the Project would also provide the adequate platform to ensure that the results of the pilot activities could directly benefit the farmers but also inform future national strategies and programming.
Madam Abena Dufie Woode, Consortium Lead for the LEAN Project, said the implementing partners are the Rainforest Alliance, World Vision Ghana, Tropenbos Ghana and EcoCare Ghana.
She said the LEAN Project would be implemented in five Regions, Western, Savannah, Upper East, Ashanti and Bono East Regions.
The Senior Project Manager said the LEAN consortium was uniquely positioned to deliver transformation and long-lasting development impact and the Project would support sustainability commitments generated from the Ghana REDD+ strategy and the Cocoa Forest Initiative.
She said as an Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) Project, LEAN provided strategic highlights such as diverse landscapes, cross-learning and business cases to be built for ILM models across various commodity sectors and use of multi-stakeholder assessment framework, reporting platform and verification mechanism- landscape tool.
She said the vision for the Project was to set up demonstration and scalable landscape governance structures that were empowered to make sustainable management decisions, operate within the government supported regulatory framework and were sustainable.
"These governance structures will serve as a collaborative and inclusive natural resources governance and management framework," she added.