Collaboration and partnership in forest conservation: The role of communities in the management of the Gbele Reserve in north-western Ghana
Since the promulgation of the 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy, community participation in forest resource management has become the norm throughout Ghana. This study assessed the role of fringe communities in the management of the Gbele Resource Reserve in north-western Ghana. The study uses a mixed method approach, with a structured questionnaire survey, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions covering 240 local residents of fringe communities and 12 key informants. The findings revealed that fringe communities are involved in implanting activities, such as seedling planting and fire prevention and fighting, as well as in monitoring activities, including guarding the reserve against illegal activities. The results of a logit estimation model indicates that six factors (gender, occupation, community role, belief in local taboos, perceived ownership of the reserve by a community, and playing a managerial role) were positively significant in determining participation in the reserve’s management. Surprisingly, perceptions of economic and environmental benefits emerged as negatively significant. This leads to the conclusion that the economic and environmental benefits of the reserve are not appreciated by fringe communities. This situation poses a threat to sustainability of the reserve and calls for the design and propagation of awareness creation programmes by forest reserve authorities.