Community Mangrove Restoration within the Muni-Pomadze Ramsar Site, Ghana

Full Solution
Planting mangroves along the shore
A Rocha Ghana

The project replanted mangroves in 7.5ha out of 30ha of degraded areas along the shore of the Muni lagoon in Ghana. The aim was to restore the site’s ecological integrity as bird migratory route, turtle nesting site and fish spawning ground. Beneficiaries were trained and equipped with alternative livelihood ventures to limit over dependence. Community awareness of impact of anthropogenic activities on conservation was raised using radio, community durbars, and traditional authority engagement.

Last update: 30 Sep 2020
Challenges addressed
Ecosystem loss
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
  1. Declining mangrove & fish resources
  2. Limited livelihood options
  3. Lacking awareness

The site once endowed with mangroves supported fish spawning and fish supply for the fisherfolk on the fringe of the resource. However, due to inadequate awareness of the impact of anthropogenic activities the site has lost its mangrove resources thus reducing the spawning grounds for fish. This has affected the livelihood of the fisherfolk leading them to extend their activities to nearby resources.

Scale of implementation
Ecosystem services
Local actors
Fisheries and aquaculture
West and Central Africa
Summary of the process
The communication tools used built a trustworthy environment with a renewed interest to take action on the part of both community members and stakeholders. They therefore readily provided information on areas where they lacked the capacity to take action in order to create the balance between development and conservation. These capacity needs were then addressed through the learning and sharing training sessions with additions in areas such as decision making mechanisms. The outreach and capacity needs assessment also provided an opportunity to identify feasible areas where beneficiaries could improve their livelihood. Lack of alternatives and low income levels were identified as some of the areas that required support to bridge the gap of balancing development with conservation especially with empowering community members to take conservation action notably replanting degraded mangrove areas. The process is cyclical in the sense that the outreach created the enabling environment for the identification of gaps as well as provision of support. The platform has now been created for communication to continue between institutions in charge of development as well as communities who have been empowered to undertake conservation action.
Building Blocks
Communication of challenges and solutions
In order to draw the attention of community members on the impact of their actions on the resource and their livelihoods, different communication formats were used to inform communities about the challenges as well as suggesting solutions and incorporating local knowledge on the history of the site. Communication tools used include documentaries, community durbars, door-to-door visits as well as stakeholder fora. In addition, pictorial representation of challenges and outcomes of solutions using posters, billboards were placed within communities and at vantage points where people can easily see them. Community members are now more receptive to conservation action.
Enabling factors
1. Dialogue with community beneficiaries in the event of project activities that are not clear to them. 2. Assign roles to participating stakeholders. 3. Make use of existing norms and regulations that support conservation and build on them if possible. 4. Good leadership ensures successful project outcomes.
Lesson learned
One important lesson through this project is that if communities are well informed and empowered they can take steps to protect their environment. Building trustworthy relationships is also important for the success of the building blocks.
Development of new sustainable decision-making skills
Capacity gaps were identified through a survey and an assessment of stakeholders’ and community members’ needs. Based on this analysis, specific activities such as conservation education targeted at both communities and schools, livelihood training and replanting of degraded habitats and tools such as stakeholder dialogue platforms as a communication tool, and marketing techniques building on local conditions were developed. A learning and sharing approach was applied to provide the required technical and logistical support to enable beneficiaries notably community members who are most vulnerable to the challenges to utilize these new tools. The stakeholders and community members developed skills in alternative livelihood options and decision making mechanisms as well as the mandate to take action to stop detrimental activities that destroy resources and the environment. Institutions such as the district assembly were also engaged in some of the decision making mechanisms that could support the actions of community members. Thus, their ability to make informed decisions on issues pertaining to developing a balance between conservation and development is improved.
Enabling factors
1. Work with existing institutions (if any) that impacted the area. 2. Try to build synergies. 3. Assign roles to participating stakeholders. 4. Good leadership ensures successful project outcomes.
Lesson learned
Institutional collaboration is an essential tool when building synergies. In the past communities and government bodies in charge of resource management worked in isolation. However, collaborative efforts through projects such as the Community Mangrove Restoration, has broadened the opportunities to bridge the gaps between conservation and community development.
Participatory development of alternative livelihoods
In a participatory dialogue with community members, feasible conservation based livelihood ventures notably grasscutter rearing and giant snail farming were identified. In addition to training, beneficiaries were provided with a startup capital in the form of equipment and logistics. Beneficiaries were encouraged to pay back this start-up into a revolving fund to help support other people in the communities. Thus, the economic status of the communities’ members is enhanced, addressing the issues of poverty which was named as one of the reasons for excessive resource exploitation. This has also enhanced their efforts towards conservation of their natural resources.
Enabling factors
1. Participatory planning of project design and implementation. 2. Provide hands-on income earning/skills development components in the project design as this serves as a motivating factor for community action. 3. Good leadership ensures successful project outcomes.
Lesson learned
However, beware of community members that show weak leadership and commitment during the project implementation. Ensure that you resolve leadership challenges and find committed people to invest project resources as this can hamper success of project outputs.
Participatory landscape management
Degradation of mangrove resources at the site led to loss of biodiversity undermined the ecological integrity of the site. This also affected the livelihood of community members who are predominantly fisherfolks. As part of efforts to restore the ecological integrity of the site, community members volunteered and supported efforts by A Rocha Ghana to replant degraded mangrove areas along the lagoon shore. Subsequently, it has improved the recovery of biodiversity at the site with records of migratory birds increasing as well as reports of increased fish recruitment for fisherfolk due to availability of spawning grounds for fish.
Enabling factors
1. Increased awareness of impacts of anthropogenic activities on both biodiversity and livelihood. 2. Participatory planning of project design and implementation. 3. Good leadership ensures successful project outcomes.
Lesson learned
Salinity levels can affect the growth of mangroves species planted at a site. Though diversification of species planted is important in supporting biodiversity, the history of the site being planted and feasibility of species survival should be considered so as to maximize resources used in restoration activities. The wider environment where restoration activities such as tree/mangrove planting are done should be monitored regularly to forestall incidents of domestic animals feeding on the planted area due to their proximity to living quarters’ of community members. If there are any such areas, these should be secured to prevent loss of plants to domestic animals.
  1. The impact of the project has been the rehabilitation of the degraded mangrove habitat. Fishermen are also reporting enhancement of the recruitment of fish due to the improvement of fish spawning areas. Their livelihoods are therefore being sustained due to the improvement of the mangrove resources.
  2. The use of the site by birds as a migratory route has also improved. More birds have been recorded over the past 2 years since the project was implemented. This has improved the biodiversity of the site and provides an opportunity for developing ecotourism potentials of the site for bird watchers.
  3. Training and equipping beneficiaries in the alternative livelihood namely grasscutter rearing and giant snail farming under the project has enhanced their livelihoods. Household incomes have increased by 10% and the women in the group are more empowered to manage the home and less dependent on their husbands due to their active role in the restoration activities and the benefits of alternative livelihood and increased income.

The beneficiaries include local communities in Biwadze, Mankoadze and Akosua Village, 5 Junior High Schools were reached and the district assembly and other community stakeholders were engaged during the implementation of the project.

Jacqueline Sapoama Kumadoh, from “A Rocha Ghana”: “I was inspired to facilitate the implementation of the solution when I visited the Muni Pomadze Ramsar site. I observed that although the Ramsar site was reported to be once rich in mangrove resources and supported not only biodiversity but also livelihoods, the availability of mangroves had reduced significantly leaving the lagoon shore bare. This affected the water quality and quantity. The fringe communities becoming highly dependent on adjoining resources such as the community designated hunting ground and the Yenku forest reserve. In order to address the challenges the community had to face as well as to restore the ecological integrity of the site, the project was formulated and funded by the Global Environment Fund Small Grants Programme in Ghana. The project was not only to address the immediate threats facing the site but also forestall future spillage of over exploitation of resources in the adjacent Yenku forest and designated community hunting grounds. The project was developed in collaboration with community members and key stakeholders such as the Wildlife Division which managed the site. Communities contributed ideas particularly in areas that affected livelihood and made suggestions of feasible alternatives that could be employed to address the challenges. The building blocks were therefore developed and implemented. It is heartwarming to note that communities volunteered and supported the project replanted mangroves in 7.5 ha out of 30 ha of degraded areas along the shore of the Muni lagoon in Ghana. Furthermore, they have since initiated other actions such as planting trees in their farms as well as forming volunteer groups that carry out monitoring within the site to prevent incidents such as bushfires and use of the site by cattle grazers. The livelihood interventions that were also provided have increased household income thus resulting in a reduction of wild good harvesting from the site. It is my fervent hope that in the next 5 to 10 years the site would regain its vegetation not only through projects such as the one my organization initiated but also through community efforts.”
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Jacqueline Kumadoh
A Rocha Ghana