Project Name Ghana: Northern Savanna Biodiversity Conservation (nsbc) Project

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Project Brief

  1. Identifiers

Project Number P067685-LEN-BBGEF

Project Name Ghana: Northern Savanna Biodiversity Conservation (NSBC) Project

Duration 6 years

Implementing Agency World Bank

Executing Agency Ministry of Lands and Forestry in collaboration wit the Ministry of Health

Requesting Country Ghana

Eligibility Ghana ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity on August 29, 1994

GEF Focal Area Biodiversity and Land Degradation

GEF Programming Framework OP1

  1. Summary

In Ghana, as elsewhere in Africa, savanna woodlands provide valuable environmental services, are a crucial refuge for native biodiversity, and also protect soil and water resources against degradation. About 70% of Ghana’s total supply of firewood and charcoal, estimated at 16 million m3, comes from savanna zones, which also provide medicinal plants (the primary source of healthcare to residents) roofing grasses, fencing poles, bush meat and fruits. The northern savannas are a source of important farmer crop varieties (cereals, roots/tubers and legumes). The future survival of the majority of indigenous crop varieties is in doubt. Similarly, an increasing number of the medicinal plants are threatened. Preserving these genetic stocks and knowledge of their use will require specific interventions to ensure that these wild/native varieties are not completely lost through inappropriate practices or replaced by introduced varieties. The project’s primary objective is to improve the environment, livelihood and health in the northern savanna zone of Ghana through the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources including medicinal plants. The global environment objective is to identify, monitor and conserve key components of the biodiversity of the northern savanna zone.

3. Costs and Financing (Million US$)

GEF: PDF B 0.3

Project 7.6

Subtotal GEF 7.9

Co-financing: - IA: IDA 12.7
Other International 18.21
Government of Ghana 9.0

Subtotal Co-financing 39.9

Total Project Cost 47.8

  1. Operational Focal Point Endorsement:

Name: E. P. D. Barnes Title: Chief Director

Organization: Ministry of Environment Date: March 8, 2000

  1. IA Contact: Christophe Crepin Telephone:. (202) 473-9727;Fax: (202) 473-8185

Background and Overall Project Context
The context of this GEF component is to complement the APL Natural Resources Management project: NRMP I (2 years) , and the proposed II (4 years) and III (4years). The development objective of the NRMP is to protect, rehabilitate, and sustainably manage national land, forest and wildlife resources and to sustainably increase the income of rural communities who own these resources. The global environmental objective is to increase the ecological security of the globally significant biological resources, especially within threatened tropical moist forest ecosystems. A 6-year GEF biodiversity component of $ 8.7 m (focusing on the southern high forest) was linked to NRMP I and II. Although the NRMP I was approved on May 15, 1998, it became effective on June 9, 1999. This 6-year Savanna biodiversity GEF project (focusing on the three northern regions) will overlap with the proposed NRMP II for 2 years and NRMP III for its 4 years.
This Project's objectives do not substitute the Ghana Natural Resource Management project which focused on the high forest and timber industry development. The project envisages five main components aimed at promoting application of improved savanna land and natural resources management techniques, involvement of communities in savanna resources conservation, management and use. Furthermore the project will take advantage of, and complement, the community-based management planning processes being generated by the NRMP I for forest reserves, wildlife protected areas, savanna woodland and integrated community based watershed management. Building on these general planning processes, specific action programs to enhance global benefits of savanna ecosystems will be developed and tested.
Project activities will be led by the project coordinator who will be located in the Savanna Resources Management Center (SRMC) in Tamale. The SRMC is a multidisciplinary agency established under NRMP I with staff seconded from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Ministry of Land and Forestry, and the Ministry of Local Government. The multidisciplinary staff of the SRMC will assist the SRMP coordinator in developing and implementing the project by participating in the community and agro-biodiversity components.
The baseline activities for this GEF project (NSBCP) are covered in part under NRMP II during its first 2 years, and totally under NRMP III during the last 4 years.

June 1, 1999

NRMP I (1999-2000) NRMP II (2001-2004) NRMP (2005-2008)

GEF Biodiversity - High Forest GEF Biodiversity - Savanna (NSBCP)

A: Project Development Objective

1. Project development objective and key performance indicators (see Annex 1):

The project’s primary objective is to improve the environment, livelihood and health of communities in the northern savanna zone2 of Ghana through the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources including medicinal plants. Progress would be determined by (i) measurable improvement in the conservation and management of globally and nationally significant plant and animal species, and their habitats; (ii) the development of a specific policy framework, based on improved capacity in the region; (iii) community involvement and adoption of improved biodiversity management plans and new conservation measures; and (iv) increased community awareness of biodiversity issues and maintenance of field gene banks of threatened indigenous crop varieties and medicinal plants.

2. Project Global objectives and key performance indicators (see Annex 1):

The global environment objective is to identify, monitor and conserve key components of the biodiversity of the northern savanna zone. Specific objectives are to: (i) protect existing biodiversity within and around preserve areas by adopting an ecosystem management approach and developing savanna biodiversity conservation and management policy; (ii) identify priority endemic species habitats and 'hotspots' in need of greater protection, (iii) protect sacred groves and other sources of biodiversity and assist in the maintenance of the medicinal plant supply through conservation and cultivation (iv) preserve knowledge of their (medicinal plants) use in the home by women and by healers, and (v) maintaining the cultivation of farmer crop varieties . Progress would be measured by number of hectares of savanna priority areas brought under effective management, the demonstrated rejuvenation of threatened, endemic, and rare biotic species' populations in the savanna, the number of communities effectively involved in propagation of important indigenous crop varieties and medicinal plants, and the enhanced security of natural habitats.

B: Strategic Context

a. Sector-related Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) goal supported by the project (see Annex 1):

CAS document number: EP-P050630 Date of latest CAS discussion: September 4, 1997

[Note: Where key indicators are established for monitoring progress toward the Bank country assistance objectives, as envisaged in the new style CASs, this section will specify the expected project contribution to these indicators.]

The Bank's CAS for Ghana aims at, among other things, sustainable use and management of natural resources and the effective implementation of the country's National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP). The project would support these CAS objectives through the promotion of sustainable use and management of Ghana's northern savanna zone. Specific project objectives that support the CAS goal are: (a) to improve livelihoods and health in the northern savanna zone and (b) ensuring social and rural development via capacity building within communities for environmental protection and sustainable natural resource management, and (c) poverty reduction through better management of the productive resources and increasing production by the more disadvantaged rural part.

b. GEF Operational Strategy/program objective addressed by the project:

[Note: Where key indicators are established for monitoring progress toward the Bank country assistance objectives, as envisaged in the new style CASs, this section will specify the expected project contribution to these indicators.]

This project's overall objective supports GEF's Operational Program Number 1 on "Arid and Semi-Arid Zone Ecosystems". The proposed project activities also respond to GEF Council's approved document GEF/C.14/4 (December, 1999), Clarifying linkages between land degradation and the GEF focal areas: an action plan for enhancing GEF support. Whereas the main thrust of the project is biodiversity conservation (CBD) in the savanna zone, the project has vital components and cross links to land degradation and desertification (CCD). In addition, the project is consistent with the GEF Operational Strategy for Biodiversity, as well as Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) regarding the protection and conservation of medicinal plants, benefit sharing and protecting indigenous knowledge. Savanna ecosystems cover about 50% of the land area of Africa and a project of this type has not been attempted anywhere in the savanna ecosystem. Hence, lessons learnt from this project would provide useful insights into the design and implementation of projects in other savanna regions. The northern savannas also harbor indigenous land races of important food crops. The future survival of the majority of northern indigenous farmer crop varieties is in doubt. Similarly, an increasing number of medicinal plant species are threatened. Activities to be tested under the GEF project, including development of sustainable use guidelines and propagation of indigenous and threatened medicinal plants will provide useful lessons for replication elsewhere in Ghana and West Africa. Preserving these genetic stocks and knowledge of their use will require specific interventions to ensure that the medicinal plant species are not lost through inappropriate land use practices and over-harvesting, or the wild/farmer crop varieties are not completely replaced by introduced varieties. The expansion of agriculture into frontier areas, such as savannas and arid and semi-arid areas, combined with over-grazing, bushfires and inadequate crop management contribute to degradation of biological diversity, as well as the loss of the cultural diversity of traditional communities.
Under NRMP 1, the Savanna Resource Management component activities are: i) establishment of the Savanna Resource Management Center (SRMC), ii) assessment of the natural resources of the savanna zone, iii) planning and initiation of six on-reserve community-based management pilots, iv) surveys and planning for pilots in six priority watersheds off-reserve, and v) complete a survey of woodfuel markets/marketing and organize a national woodfuels workshop. Certain critical aspects of savanna resource management (such as agro-biodiversity and medicinal plant species) were not addressed under NRMP 1. Activities contacted under the PDF-B grant have clearly shown that agro-biodiversity and sustainability of medicinal plant species are critical to community well-being. The opportunity provided by the NRMP (I , II and III) and the establishment of the SRMC at Tamale, make Ghana an ideal location for this project. Experiences and lessons learned in this area will have far-reaching implications for the management of this widespread biome elsewhere in Africa. The anthropogenic threats facing this fragile zone, endemism and the increasing rarity of some species, the increasingly recognized importance of agro-biodiversity as well as the role that (increasingly scarce) native plants play in traditional medicine and indigenous culture justify the modest resources that are required to find better ways of managing this ecosystem, sustaining local communities, and alleviating poverty. Economic analyses of the issues that pertain to competing land use, biodiversity, and climate change impacts are needed to guide sound policy and decision making for sustainable development.
In Ghana, as in many areas in Africa, savanna woodlands provide valuable environmental services; are a critical refuge for native biodiversity, and also protect soil and water resources against degradation. With about 20% of the national population the northern and coastal savanna zones supply about 70% of Ghana’s total supply of firewood and charcoal, estimated at 16 million m3, and also provides medicinal plants, roofing grasses, fencing poles, and fruits (e.g., shea-nut which is an increasingly important export commodity). Savanna bushmeat (various indigenous rodents, antelopes, reptiles and gastropods) is an important source of animal protein (12% of protein for rural communities) and revenues for local impoverished communities. The savanna woodlands also have an ameliorative effect on the local climate and constitute a natural barrier to the desiccating harmattan winds from the Sahara, thus helping to maintain a favorable climate for agricultural production in the south.

2. Main sector issues and Government strategy:

[Note: Summarize assessments of key policy, institutional and other issues, and the Government’s strategy to address them, referencing the economic and sector work of the Bank and other development agencies.].

Within the area of natural resources management, the key issues in Ghana are land and forest degradation and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity associated with unsustainable harvesting levels in both the high forest (wood processing) and savanna zones (poles/woodfuel), and inappropriate farming practices.
The Sudan and Guinea savanna zones cover the drier northern two thirds of the country, where the main economic activities are the production of annual crops (cereals, legumes, root crops, cotton) and livestock. It is believed that at the beginning of the last century, woodland coverered about 9.4 million hectares of the northern savanna zone, producing mainly woodfuel and a small amount of building poles for local use. While the savanna zone is home to about one third of wildlife species in Ghana, annual massive bushfires affect 50% of the savanna zone and seriously affect and kill species of flora and fauna thereby reducing the potential to conserve biodiversity. The savanna zones are under tremendous pressure from growing human and livestock populations, agricultural expansion and inappropriate farming practices, deforestation, annual bush fires, and introduction of crop varieties that are replacing indigenous varieties. Land degradation associated with loss of vegetative cover and inappropriate farming practices is an increasing problem in the country, and was identified in the NEAP as one of the major environmental issues in Ghana. The main interlinked underlying problems leading to degradation include: i) a poorly developed market system that does not price exploited natural resources at their real economic value while providing easy (open) access to dwindling communally owned natural resources, ii) inefficient public regulating agencies with overlapping responsibilities, iii) inadequate/negligible involvement key stakeholders including local communities in natural resource management, iv) weak institutional capacity in the wildlife sector and little involvement of communities in the management and sustainable use of the wildlife resource, and v) lack of inter-agency coordination in planning/monitoring natural resource use, especially at the district and field levels.
All forest and savanna woodland reserves in Ghana are owned by the local communities and traditional authorities and the government's role is to manage these resources in trust for the people. The key objectives of Government natural resource policy include: a) ensuring a sustained and adequate supply of forest products, b) preventing further environmental degradation due to deforestation and inappropriate farming practices, and c) stimulating community involvement in management of natural resources and enhanced economic well-being of rural communities. Specific policy and institutional reforms that were identified to address these objectives are directed at four areas: concessions allocation procedures, forest revenue policy, trade policy, and restructuring of forest and wildlife sector institutions. Technical and analytical studies to design a coherent sector-wide program of policy and institutional reforms have been undertaken, resulting in the adoption of a new National Forest and Wildlife Policy in 1994 based on three pillars of resource protection, sustainable production, and involvement of local rural people. Subsequently, a system-wide master plan, the Forest Development Master Plan (1996-2020), was developed to implement the policy. Companion Wildlife legislation is also being prepared.
The importance of medicinal plants is underscored by the fact that most rural modern Health Posts are poorly equipped and administered and per capita allopathic drug expenditure is low. To bolster their role in healthcare, a Traditional Medicines Practices Bill was submitted to the Ghanaian Parliament in December 1999. Apart from being the first of its kind in Africa, this Bill will not only legitimize traditional medicines and healers, but will also put more pressure on the affected plants species due to the increased national attention. Since the majority of plants used for traditional medicines are harvested from the wild, it is important that this basic resource is protected through sustainable harvesting and/or cultivation. Rural health in Ghana is mainly dependent on this traditional health services systems. Hence the conservation and sustainable utilization of medicinal plant biodiversity has both national and global significance. MOH has established a Traditional Medicine Directorate and has appointed a Deputy Director. This gives added importance to the role traditional medicine plays in healthcare provision and need for greater collaboration between MLF and MOH.
Other relevant government policies include: a) the draft National Biodiversity and the National Forest Protection Strategy which seek to: i) safeguard genetic diversity and diversity of indigenous species through an ecosystem approach to management within all ecological zones, ii) improve knowledge of the distribution and status of rare, threatened and endemic fauna species through targeted surveys, iii) enhance protection of critical areas for migratory species through improved monitoring and habitat management, and iv) ensure sustainability and preserve genetic diversity within non-timber forest species that are collected by rural populations for medicinal and consumptive uses through improved data collection, regulation of harvesting, and proactive management; and b) the just published National Land Policy (1999) which seeks the application of the principles of sustainable resource development to the management of the country's land and water resources.
3. Sector issues to be addressed by the project and strategic choices:

[Note: Of the issues identified in paragraph 6, specify those to be addressed by the project, indicating the strategic choices, e.g., private vs. public options, as assessed in the economic and sector work of the Bank and other development agencies.]      The proposed project aims to enhance the sustainable use of savanna resources (medicinal plants, woodfuel, bushmeat, farmlands, grazing lands) through interventions to: a) support community-based savanna woodland and wildlife resource management, b) support improved management and monitoring of savanna biodiversity through the establishment of special protection areas in addition to and within the existing system of savanna reserves that explicitly incorporate biodiversity conservation as an integral management objective, c) stimulate and support improved land management practices to support agro-biodiversity (e.g., through reforestation of degraded savanna areas, cultivation of indigenous crops, etc), and d) efficient use of extracted savanna products (e.g., medicinal products, bushmeat) that assures local users sustainable benefits.

The role of women and children in sustainable use and management of savanna resources is critical. In the savanna zone, it is clear that women are in control of the non-timber forest products. They harvest and use them for food, fuel, medicine and fodder. They also trade in them for limited cash income. They collect and process shea nuts into butter, baobab fruits into condiments and leaves, stem portions and roots of various plants and herbs into medicine. Fuelwood and charcoal production are also a female preserve and account for the employment of a majority of rural women. Women have therefore accumulated a profound knowledge of local ecosystems and have vital roles to play in natural resources conservation, utilization and sustainable management.
Savanna based economic enterprises run by women are bound to suffer with savanna resource degradation and this will negate the poverty reduction objective of the NSBCP. Hence involvement of women in natural resources management is key to poverty reduction in the savanna just as it is key to ensuring a balance between natural resource exploitation and systems of sustainable savanna management.
Children and women bear the burden of environmental degradation by walking long distances to procure forest products for household consumption. Their needs including school fees are often met by incomes generated through various forest-based economic enterprises their mothers engage in. As the future heirs of the environment and its resources and problems, savanna resource management must be the business of children as it is of adults. Catching them young is the best assurance for building their capacity and empowering them for future natural resource conservation, utilisation and sustainable management. This would be achieved through organising youth workshops and training camps, environmental education in school curricula, and forming environmental clubs in schools and colleges. Encouragement and empowerment are two key actions necessary to improve women and children's roles in natural resource conservation, utilisation and sustainable management.
During project preparation, a PDF – Block B Grant provided an opportunity for MLF to obtain important baseline data regarding the loss of savanna biodiversity, in particular indigenous agro-biodiversity and medicinal plant species, its impact on rural poverty and socio-economic status, and future rural development programs was assessed (see Annexes 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10). Individual surveys in the Upper East Region (UER), Upper West Region (UWR) and Northern region (NR) have highlighted critical issues that would be addressed by the project during implementation.
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