November 2009

The Greenline - Focus on Biodiversity


A Unique Institutional Arrangement for Natural Resources Management


The Government of Ghana obtained a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for a Northern Savannah Biodiversity Conservation Project (NSBCP) to support the conservation of biodiversity, agro-biodiversity, and the sustainable utilization of medicinal plants in the three northern regions of Ghana.

The project developed an innovative institutional collaboration system for implementation. The project was implemented by the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines (MLFM) in collaboration with a multitude of partners: the Ministries of Food and Agriculture (MoFA); Health (MoH); Local Government, Rural Development and Environment (MLGRDE); the Ministry of Science through their regional and district agencies; a number of local and international NGOs; and several communities in the three northern regions.

Impact - Why Does This Matter?

Two biological corridors were established in a mosaic of terrains (savannah woodlands, farm fallows and degraded land) with very different land uses.

In addition, the number of participatory communities and district assemblies increased from a baseline of 28 to over 76. Management effectiveness of protected areas within the corridors increased, and biodiversity management has now been integrated into the core business planning of the participating government institution, along with increased institutional collaboration in natural resource management.

And the indigenous crops and medicinal plants components identified over 26 indigenous varieties from a baseline of 8. Over 240 farmers now cultivate the new varieties from a baseline of 15. These farmers have been crafted into conservationists, thus challenging the widespread perception of migrating farmers as destroyers of natural resources and insensitive to indigenous cultures.

Unexpectedly, the two wildlife corridors also spawned a good relationship along the biodiversity reserve corridors between the Ghanaian communities and their Burkinabe counterparts, which will increase free movement of wildlife between the two countries.

Insight - What's Innovative?

The project solved what could have been a very difficult implementation arrangement. The synergies among the different agencies working together produced outcomes that would not have been possible had the agencies worked in isolation.

The key to innovation lies in the appropriation of staff: each agency seconded one staff and paid his or her full salary to the Savanna Resource Management Center to work full time on the project. This approach created cross-sectoral collaborative opportunities to address the many conservation, environmental, and poverty issues in northern Ghana.

Action - How This Might Work For You

This inter-institutional approach is highly replicable in other countries and regions, and holds important lessons for many other SD multi-sector projects.

However, of all the innovative project aspects, the secondment of staff from different institutions, paid by their mother agencies but collaborating to achieve project goals, offers the highest potential for future successes.

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Editor: Patrizia Cocca
Contributing Editor: John Wickham
Contributing Writers: Mohamed I Bakarr, J. Quintana, F. Jalfim, L. C. Mattos, I. Cossio, M. Seely, N Gaseb, P Klintenberg, B Kruger, Zhihong Zhang, Heitor Matallo, Hakan Marstorp, Sara Minelli