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This book embodies the proceedings of a workshop on Environment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change in West Africa, held at the University of Ghana, Legon, from 25 to 27 October 1994. The workshop was organized under the auspices of the United Nations University (UNU) Project of Collaborative Research on Population (now People), Land Management and Environmental Change (PLEC). PLEC addresses, within the context of small farming communities, the processes whereby indigenous resource management and land use systems adapt to environmental change, with a view to providing researched options for the better management of land resources, including species diversity, in tropical areas, the domain of the world's greatest but increasingly endangered biodiversity and agrodiversity.

With the collaboration of the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (INRA), the support of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and with the University of Ghana serving as the host, the workshop objectives were to:

It was attended by over 80 international participants, and coordinated by Professor E.A. Gyasi, the leader of PLEC, West Africa.

Various technical presentations were made and discussed, following the opening ceremony, which included:

Eleven of the technical presentations comprised papers based on the report of a PLEC pilot study on environmental change in Ghana's forest-savanna ecotone, carried out in 1993-94. They centred on the background, objectives, methodology and findings of the study. Five others were substantive papers on various other aspects of environmental change and sustainable farming in Ghana and tropical Africa as a whole. There was a slide presentation on landscape modification in the forest-savanna zone. Four other presentations dealt with a PLEC research extension proposal. The last presentation was the rapporteurs' report of the workshop proceedings.

A field trip on 26 October took 35 participants through the degraded, reportedly once thickly forested southern forest-savanna zone, with brief stopovers at Mampong and Mamfe in the Akuapem hills, and much longer ones at the PLEC pilot study sites, Sekesua and Yensiso, where, in the village of Gyamfiase, the visiting party was welcomed by the chief, Nana Oduro Darko II, and the people with a colourful durbar marked by traditional drumming and dancing, which signifies the Gyamfiase community's appreciation and acceptance of the PLEC research.

The workshop concluded with a closing statement by the Hon. Dr. Kwabena Adjei, minister of lands and forestry.

Special post-workshop meetings limited to core PLEC members and a few others were held under the chairmanship of Professor Brookfield on 28 and 29 October, for a more in-depth discussion of the workshop issues, including PLEC forward plans.

The main points ensuing from the post-workshop meetings, together with the key elements of the mainstream workshop proceedings, are published in this book with the hope that the book will stimulate debate on and enhance understanding and management of the dynamic biophysical environment and the farming therein, particularly in agrarian regions such as West Africa, whose worsening agroenvironmental problems and the attendant food insecurity are epitomized by Ghana.

This publication has been produced with the support of Obayashi Corporation.


The production of this book was made possible by the generous support received from various quarters.

The United Nations University (UNU) was the primary supporter of the workshop resulting in the book. This generous support and the supplementary funding so kindly provided by the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) are hereby acknowledged with profound gratitude.

A similar expression of appreciation goes to Emeritus Professor Harold Brookfield, the scientific coordinator of the UNU Project of Collaborative Research on Population (now People), Land Management and Environmental Change (PLEC), under whose auspices the workshop was organized in collaboration with the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU/ INRA); to Professor Bede N. Okigbo, the director of UNU/INRA; and to Professor George Benneh, the vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana, all of whom provided invaluable assistance.

Also deserving special praise are the following:

Sincere thanks go to Professors Y. Ahenkorah, E.S. Ayensu, E.A. Boateng, H. Brookfield and R.K. Udo for chairing the various workshop technical sessions; to all the more than 80 international workshop participants, including those who made oral or written presentations, and Messrs. S. Agbayizah, G. Amponsah Kissiedu, A.A. Boadu, S.Y. Freeman, S.O. Okyere, K. Tetteh and N. Yeboah, the farmers' representatives from the PLEC pilot study areas in Ghana; to the several student assistants, including Mr. J. Addipa, Mr. Afikorah-Danquah, and Ms. A.A. Gyasi; and to our able team of rapporteurs, led by the late Mr. Yaw Kwarteng.

The active participation of the workshop special guests, Dr. James Fairhead of the University of London, Dr. R.M. Kiome of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and leader of the East Africa cluster of PLEC, Dr. Melissa Leach of the University of Sussex and Dr. Jan Nibbering of Antenne Sahelienne, Wageningen Agricultural University/University of Ouagadougou, is acknowledged with much gratitude.

Also appreciated are the excellent catering services provided by the University of Ghana Guest Centre and the Volta Hall of the university; and the effective press coverage by Radio Ghana and the Graphic and Times corporations.

Ms. A. Indome, Mr. C.D. Nsor and Mr. S.A. Otchere provided editorial and typing services, which are deeply appreciated, as is the cartographic service rendered by Mr. D.J. Drah, all of the Department of Geography and Resource Development.

But, without doubt, those who deserve our greatest gratitude are the hundreds of small farmers who hosted the PLEC team during the pilot field studies in 1993 and the workshop field trip in October 1994, and who constituted the primary source of information for the research study report that formed the principal basis of the workshop leading to this book. To them we humbly dedicate the book.

Opening address

Christina Amoako-Nuama

Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chancellor, Representative of the United Nations University, Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to be here to address you at the opening of the Regional Workshop on Environment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change, because the theme of the workshop is at the heart of the issue my ministry is trying to address. The environmental agenda for the 1990s is getting increasingly complex at both the national and global levels due to the growing threat on life support systems. There is therefore the need to examine the underlying causes of the threat to the citizenry of Ghana.

Most times, Ghanaians as a nation overemphasise the weight of the abundance of our natural resource endowment, with minimal or no emphasis at all on the importance of proper management of these resources. The mismanagement of these resources has resulted in a host of environmental problems which affect the quality of life we all yearn to enjoy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana's environmental management strategy as set forth in the Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) aims at ensuring reconciliation between development and natural resource conservation in order to make a high quality environment, a key element in support of the country's economic and social development. The strategy recognises among others the need:

The guiding principle of this strategy is the preventive approach which commits government to a number of actions. Some of these actions which are relevant for this workshop are:

Mr. Chairman, it is therefore gratifying to note that these objectives have found expression in the effort of the United Nations University (UNU) and the University of Ghana in undertaking the pilot study of pressure on the environment and change in biodiversity and agriculture in Ghana's forest-savanna ecotone. This workshop is to me therefore significant in two principal ways.

The first is that it emphasises the importance of cooperation between local and international institutions to come together to provide insight into the emerging complex environmental problems facing mankind.

The second is that it seeks to involve small farmers in the study and their participation in the workshop in an effort to integrate such farmers into agroenvironmental research to achieve realistic community-based agroenvironmental enhancement programmes.

This is a departure from past efforts, where research was carried out without the involvement of farmers, who are the real decision makers on land use, and who can help redress environmental deterioration. This is heart-warming, as there is a growing awareness of the need for the involvement of local people as active partners in all aspects of the research and development process. The immense wealth of traditional know-how, especially in agricultural systems, should be brought to bear on improper land use practices by research projects such as this one to reinforce sustainable practices.

Ladies and Gentlemen, another significant aspect of the study is the question of the interrelationships between population dynamics and environmental change. This aspect of the study seeks to examine and disaggregate the processes of adaptation of indigenous resource management systems and land use through a series of field-based research projects in key aero-ecological zones of tropical and subtropical environments. Most of the environmental problems facing us are due to rapid population growth which puts pressure on environmental resources.

I wish to use this opportunity to congratulate all the collaborators in this study for their contribution towards good environmental management practice in Ghana. In the same vein, I wish to call on other scientists to emulate this example to make their research meaningful to the land users, and to pledge that my ministry will offer its full support and recognition to any such effort towards solving our environmental problems.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Participants, you have assembled here to consider a set of objectives during the workshop. These are:

The outcome of your deliberations on the findings is likely to affect the lives of many farmers and the status of the environment for good or ill. However, I am confident, based on the laudable objectives set for the workshop, that the outcome will be a positive one. It is therefore imperative on all assembled here to discuss the issues before you in a dispassionate manner, taking into account the many small-scale farmers who are struggling to eke out a living with attendant sideeffects on the environment. This group of people, wherever they are, are unknowingly counting on you to give them hope to provide the current formula to get them out of their environmental insecurity.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, on this note, I wish to declare the PLEC/INRA Regional Workshop on Environment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change in West Africa opened.

I wish you fruitful deliberations. Thank you.

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