UNDP landscape restoration initiative at Ayum Forest Reserve yielding results

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Tain Ii Forest Reserve
Tain Ii Forest Reserve

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says a forest landscape restoration initiative at the Ayum Forest Reserve in the Asunafo North District has brought unique benefits to the people and nature in the area.

The initiative, which is being implemented by the UNDP in partnership with COCOBOD, Forestry Commission, and Mondelēz International’s cocoa sustainability programme (Cocoa Life), aimed at restoring degraded portions of the Reserve, help combat climate change and prevent biodiversity loss in Ghana, while empowering farmers towards sustainable livelihoods.

It is being implemented using the Modified Taungya System (MTS) – where farmers are given access to degraded forest reserve lands for the planting of economic trees and allowed to integrate tree planting with selected food crops until tree canopy closure.

A statement signed by Madam Praise Nutakor, Head of Communication and Partnerships, UNDP Ghana and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi, said some farmers in the forest reserve enclave were enjoying the benefits of the project.

The statement quoted one Madam Adwoa Adomaa, a beneficiary farmer from Anwianwia village in the area, as saying she now has an additional source of income to support her family.

“I have been farming for 35 years now and I used to depend only on my cocoa farm and make money after harvesting.
“So, when cocoa is out of season, I struggle to make money to keep the house running but thanks to this initiative, I now have an additional source of income to support my family,” the statement quoted her.

According to the statement, Madam Adomaa is one of the over 200 farmers, growing food crops with economic trees to restore the degraded landscape in Ayum, which was now a fulfilling venture for farmers in the area.

“I decided to quit my trading job which was not profitable and then join the farmers in the Akwaduro community to help restore the degraded Ayum Forest. “I have no regrets taking this decision.

“I now have two vast lands for my farm, and I also make money from my produce”, Stephen Agyeman, one of the beneficiaries of the forest restoration project, is quoted as saying, in the statement.

The MTS has become a legally binding land lease arrangement in which farmers are considered co-owners of the plantations with the Forestry Commission and are entitled to the MTS plots till the tree reaches canopy
heights.

The statement said almost a million seedlings had been planted in the landscape since the project began in 2020, and the tree survival rate was high.

It underscored the importance of forests saying the rate of declining forests had affected many communities in the country.

The Global Forest Watch estimated that, from 2001 to 2021, Ghana lost 1.41 million hectares of tree cover, therefore restoring lost forests, including Ayum, required actions at all levels.

It said the MTS project beneficiaries are receiving support under a UNDP Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) initiative.

“The formation of the CREMA has been a great value addition in our efforts to help restore and manage natural resources.

“Now our farmers are able to improve the land fertility in their farmlands and have stopped harmful activities like group hunting, and illegal mining, all thanks to our trainings, they now practice effective farming activities,” Mr Daniel Amponsah Gyinayeh, Chairman of the CREMA is quoted as saying in the statement.

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