US$103.4m landscape restoration project launched

US$103.4m landscape restoration project launched

A multi-stakeholder project to address Ghana’s fast degrading landscape, with support from the World Bank, has been officially launched.

The project, dubbed the ‘Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining Project (GLRSSMP)’, aims to strengthen integration of the country’s natural resources management and increase the benefits to communities in targetted savannah and cocoa-forest landscapes.

It will also support sustainable land, water and forest management initiatives in climate-vulnerable target landscapes and support the formalisation of small-scale mining.

The GLRSSMP geographically targets the Northern Savannah Zone – which includes the Guinea Savannah ecological zone, the Sudan Savannah ecological zone and the upper portions of the Transitional ecological zone. There is also the cocoa forest landscape, which includes parts of the forest ecological zone and the Pra River Basin.

The project will include a multi-sector approach to land management, spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) and Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI).

The World Bank has already approved US$103.4million for implementation of the project. The financing includes an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$75million and US$28.4million in grants from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Extractive Global Programmatic Support (EGPS) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable and Resilient Landscapes Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PROGREEN).

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, observed that the country has seen rapid economic growth over the years – with significant contributions from renewable and non-renewable natural resources.

“Gold alone provides approximately 40 percent of our export earnings, and accounts for more than 90 percent of our gross mineral revenues – of which artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) accounts for one-third,” he stated.

This, he said, has come at a cost: with the negative impact of illegal small-scale mining on the environment being enormous. “We are, however, convinced that small-scale mining can, and must, be done in a responsible, sustainable and environmentally-sound manner,” he added.

It is against this background that he said government has been pursuing several interventions to sanitise the small-scale mining industry while also reclaiming the degraded lands.

GLRSSMP, he said, is therefore designed to build on these initiatives to reverse land and forest degradation trends, through improved institutional and regulatory frameworks and integrated landscape management – with a focus on enhancing sustainable agricultural productivity, sustainable small-scale mining and sustainable forest and water-resource management.

Mr. Abu Jinapor said: “The multi-sectoral approach of the project is an innovative and comprehensive way of dealing with the gamut of issues affecting the small-scale mining sector, as well as reducing deforestation and improving agricultural management in Ghana”.

The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, said GLRSSMP “will be anchored on the achievements and lessons from previous projects implemented in the savannah drylands among others. The GLRSSMP is timely as we move into the implementation of our enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while contributing toward achieving the objectives of several national policies by aiding in reversing the trend of land and forest degradation.

“This,” he added, “will be achieved through an integrated landscape management approach: greening commodity value chains such as for cocoa; and sustaining small-scale mining to improve the livelihoods of communities in the project areas.”

The World Bank Country Director, Pierre Frank Laporte, recognised that rising global trends such as climate change and COVID-19 have adversely impacted rural livelihoods, to which the introduction of GLRSSMP will bring huge relief.

“This project will help boost COVID-era economic recovery and create jobs.” For instance, by focusing on agriculture productivity, ecosystem management and sustainable small-scale mining, the project is expected to lead to increased benefits for over 200,000 people.

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