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Localizing REDD+: the case of cocoa forest communities in Ghana

Saeed, A.-R. (2018) Localizing REDD+: the case of cocoa forest communities in Ghana. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Addressing climate change involves tackling deforestation, which account for between 12-17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Forest conservation, management and protection are increasingly addressed through mechanisms such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). This research provides insight at the global level, on the local level uptake of REDD+ in two cocoa forest communities in Ghana (Kamaso and Attobrakrom). This thesis introduces the REDD+ localisation analysis framework that engages with concepts of Ostrom's (1990) common property rights principles, McDermott's (2013) equity framework and Agrawal's (2005) environmentality to show how REDD+ is mediated through institutions from the national to the local, in ways that form subjectivities and encompasses meaning to local people. A qualitative participatory methodology was used to elicit perspectives from 124 participants (33 key policy stakeholders across government, private sector, NGOs and traditional authorities and 91 cocoa-forest community dwellers) to explore questions of who is involved, what institutions are engaged and in what ways cocoa farmers in forest communities understand and have come to care for the environment through REDD+ or not. Extensive fieldwork was conducted in two communities in Ghana between 2014 and 2016 and combined with elite interviews with key policy stakeholders. Findings indicate that the state plays a central role by mediating REDD+ stakeholder knowledge among private sector, NGOs and other decision makers. Both formal and informal relationships exist between the state and NGOs in the development of knowledge and dissemination. The way that Ghana's REDD+ process plays out in terms of equity is affected by contextual factors such as the existing forest laws and policies that advantage the state above local forest communities. This creates an uneven playing field for the implementation of REDD+. Empirical fieldwork among the cocoa-forest communities in Ghana, found that the technical narrative of REDD+ waters down to a simplified "tree-planting" (which locals call 'ndua dual The research discovered at the local level that REDD+ is influencing new understandings and identities around forests, in combination with a range of factors: personal experiences of climate impacts, observations of flourishing cocoa farms as forest cover increases, values, culture and connection to property and livelihoods, survival of future generations, and expected financial benefits to be gained from carbon credits. Having used the REDD+ localisation analysis framework to navigate the findings, the thesis concludes that the complexities and nuances in the understandings of REDD+ at the implementation level, has implications for sustainability of forest resources and poverty reduction. Local people's understanding of REDD+ in the case study communities does not reflect broader win-win objectives for emission reduction and livelihoods. REDD+ governance requires radical overhauling in its strategy and approach to the knowledge creation and dissemination through state and non-state institutions, formal and informal channels from the national to the local level. Part of achieving a successful REDD+ mechanism in Ghana requires the repeal of laws such as the one side-lines farmers from ownership over naturally regenerating trees on their farmlands; clarifying and securing land tenure; institutionalising participation including setting minimum requirements acceptable by all stakeholders and among others, having an integrated policy for sustainable land use practices under a jurisdictional REDD+ approach.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Boyd, E. and McDermott, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:78773
Date on Title Page:2017


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