Climate Change presents a significant threat to the wellbeing of mankind, and it is driven by the ever-increasing quantity of greenhouse gases (GHG) being emitted into the atmosphere from anthropogenic sources. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has called for concerted action by all nations to limit their GHG emission. Globally, consensus has grown that it will be practically impossible to limit the impacts of climate change without reducing emissions from the forestry and agricultural sectors; yet worldwide, forests continue to be lost at an alarming rate. Between 2000 and 2010 there was a global net loss of 6.2 million hectares of forests.
Forests serve as carbon sinks such that when destroyed, either by burning or through the degradation of organic matter emits carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. CO2 is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and the primary component of anthropogenic emissions. The conversion of forests to other land uses is responsible for around 10% of net global carbon emissions. Therefore, solving the problem of deforestation is a prerequisite for any effective response to climate change.
To successfully implement REDD+, participating countries are required to embark on a readiness process that outlines a set of strategic activities that will be used to address the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
Ghana joined the international REDD+ Readiness Programme through the FCPF in 2008, and its Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) was approved in 2010. The R-PP outlined the process by which the Government of Ghana was to develop its national strategy and the supporting mechanisms and processes for participating in and implementing REDD+. During this period, Ghana also became a recipient of the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) of the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) of the World Bank, which is currently supporting the government to pilot projects that are synchronized with Ghana’s REDD+ programme. Ghana has completed its Readiness Package, which outlines the completion of the preparation phase and indicates a move to full implementation.Ghana’s forest lands are endowed with rich natural resources—gold, timber, non-timber forest products (NTFPs) etc. The country has a strong commitment to democratic governance, civic and traditional leadership.The country is divided into three main ecological zones; the High Forest zone (HFZ), Transitional Zone (TZ) and the Savannah Zone (SZ). These zones have been delineated on the basis of climatic factors, notably rainfall and temperature.
The High Forest zone is found in the southern part of Ghana. It is the region with the highest precipitation in the country, where rainfall may exceed 2000 mm in the wettest parts (wet evergreen zone). The HFZ falls within the biodiversity hotspot of the Guinean forests of West Africa, one of the 36 most important biodiversity areas in the world.
The Transitional Zone exists in the mid-part of the country. It portrays characteristics of both the High Forest and Savannah Zones. The Savannah Zone mainly exists in the northern part of the country but stretches further south into the east coast and exists in three distinct forms; Coastal savannah, Guinea savannah and the Sudan savannah.
With a current rate of deforestation and forest degradation (2% annual loss of forest cover in Ghana), Ghana's forest resources face pressures from mining, agricultural encroachment, wildfires and poaching. Ghana’s economic growth and achievements have come at a significant cost to its forests. Having lost over 60% of its forest cover from 1950 to the turn of the last century (2.7 million hectares), and considering the current deforestation rate of approximately 2% per year (135,000 ha/year), the future of Ghana’s forests is an issue of major concern.
Forest degradation and deforestation pose a significant threat to Ghana for two main reasons. Forests provide many ecosystem services and functions that support the country’s predominantly agrarian economy. Therefore, as Ghana loses its forest ecosystem, the sustainable supply of goods and services is hampered. In addition, deforestation is a major global contributor to climate change through CO2 emissions. Ghana therefore runs the risk of remaining in its present status of a net emitter of CO2 if it is unable to halt deforestation and forest degradation. Given that climate change poses myriad threats to Ghana as a result of projected increases in temperature and changes in rainfall patterns, the effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change is of paramount importance to all Ghanaians.Ghana began its engagement in REDD+ in 2008 with the development of its Readiness Project Idea Note (R-PIN), and in 2010 received approval of its R-PP. Since 2010, Ghana has been focusing on REDD+ Readiness, building the needed capacity, understanding, architecture and systems to support the implementation and monitoring of REDD+ projects and programmes. Ghana is implementing a suite of activities and programmes to reduce deforestation, and that in the ensuing five to ten years, it will broadly scale up and expand these interventions.
Since 2008, significant learning, debate, and actions towards REDD+ have happened in Ghana and numerous partners from civil society, private sector, government, communities and traditional leaders have contributed to its evolution and efforts towards realization of its goals.
Recognizing the national and global importance of this initiative, Ghana acknowledges that while the concept of REDD+ is relatively straightforward, the actions required to achieve REDD+ are complicated and multi-dimensional. Land and tree tenure issues, especially in off-reserve areas and challenges associated with the development and implementation of an equitable benefit sharing scheme pose major challenges to Ghana’s REDD+ process. Other constraints include: codification of carbon property rights; effective coordination among REDD+ related initiatives to ensure synergy and cost-efficiency and low level of awareness and capacity in REDD+ matters among key stakeholders particularly at the grassroots’ level.