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Edwin A. Gyasi Gotfried T. Agyepong, Elizabeth ArdayfioSchandorf; Lewis Enu-Kwesi, John S. Nabila and Emmanuel Owusu-Bennoah
On the whole, the workshop confirmed the view that changes in the biophysical environment are significantly related to production pressures exerted by environmental actors, who respond variously to the environmental changes, with the majority doing so in a manner that appears to be positive, but not sufficient to prevent the degradation of the environment.
The other workshop findings and conclusions, including recommendations, may be grouped under the headings: PLEC research objectives/themes; methodology; and extension strategies. Much emphasis was placed by the participants on methodology.
The quest for deeper understanding of changes in the biophysical environment and agriculture through systematic studies, with special reference to the humid tropics, home to the world's largest reserves of agrobiodiversity but where this fundamental natural resource and cultural heritage faces the most imminent threat of destruction, was seen as a topmost research priority. However, the investigations should emphasise not only the degradational aspects of the agroenvironmental changes but the positive, constructional, or sustainable aspects as well; highlighting in either case the roles of both human activity or culture and purely natural forces in effecting changes in the environment. Also, the investigations should be designed such that they may serve as a possible basis for applied measures to promote sustainable environmental management practices.
More specifically, the workshop recommended greater emphasis upon:
The workshop saw the multidisciplinary approach which was applied to the pilot PLEC study as a logical and appropriate method for studying the multi dimensional biophysical environment, particularly if this method is used within the general conceptual framework of systems theory, in view of the inter- relatedness of environmental processes. It stressed, however, the need for ana lytical rigour through greater emphasis upon statistics and upon quantitative techniques such as correlation, with the analysis guided by multiple alternative hypotheses on biodiversity and climatic change, environmental degradation, farming systems-environmental change, gender role, etc. It saw the survey of biodiversity and land use by transect along footpaths as fairly effective, at least for rapid, exploratory studies, particularly if this procedure is used in conjunc tion with aerial photographs and satellite images. However, multiple linear transects combined with aerial photographs and remotely sensed images were generally thought to be superior. The questionnaire and group discussion approach were also considered to be useful for generating information. However, their application should be more gender balanced. Furthermore, they should be used as far as possible in conjunction with more participatory methods of social research. The importance of archival, archaeological and general historical records was emphasised, as were the social anthropological and landscape-ecological approaches. Other recommendations were the need to:
Other aspects that were emphasised were the carrying capacity concept; the classification of agrobiodiversity; a more standardised definition of research site; researcher-policy maker-environmental manager linkage by networking; and the replicability of methodologies. Regarding the time frame for studies, the consensus was that the studies should date from as far back as data would permit, to the present time.
It was recommended that the PLEC pilot study be used as a basis for extend ing across other agroecological zones in West Africa, in the form of an interim research study entitled "Production Pressures, Changes in the Biophysical Environment, and Sustainability of Small-Farmer Agriculture in West Africa," with a strong focus on Ghana, and exploratory extension to Burkina Faso,Guinea (Conakry) and possibly Côte d'Ivoire. The relevant research proposal was to be finalized and forwarded together with a budget for UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) funding. Professor Gyasi, the West Africa PLEC leader, was mandated to immediately embark upon research extension missions to various universities and research institutions in Ghana (UST, Kumasi; UDS, Tamale; SARI, Nyankpala; SARI, Bawku; and UCC, Cape Coast), and others in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.
A longer term research proposal on "Small Indigenous Farming Systems, the Environment and Agrobiodiversity Maintenance in West Africa" was to be developed for consideration of funding under GEF (Global Environmental Facility). This proposal is to follow the GEF-UNEP format for proposal preparation.
Networking through country and regional multidisciplinary clusters of re searchers was to be the keystone of the research expansion, with the size of the clusters, other than that at Legon, limited to 2-3 initially.
A major recommendation was close collaboration between PLEC and UNU/ INRA in areas of ethnobotany, home gardens, genetic erosion, indigenous African food and useful plants and environmental policy and management research, in addition to field visits, postgraduate training and general research capacity building. Other recommendations were:
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