In recent times, climate change has become one of the most important phenomena and a serious global concern to humans due to the severe threat it poses to life and property. As a result, carbon (C) storage potential of agroforestry systems has been recognized by the Kyoto Protocol as an alternative for mitigating greenhouse gases. Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) parklands in sub-Saharan Africa provide ingredients to the multi-billion euro confectionery, cosmetic and food industries. These parklands occupy millions of hectares in twenty-one African countries, including Ghana, and serve as excellent sinks for atmospheric carbon. With increasing fears of how these useful trees are in serious danger due to logging and bush burning, there have been urgent calls for the trees to be properly managed and conserved. Farmers in shea-growing communities, in the midst of financial difficulties, manage these parklands using traditional methods. There is however a possibility of the farmers deriving cash benefits from the sale of carbon stored by their shea trees. To be able to assess how much farmers can benefit financially from such carbon credits it is useful to find out how much C shea parklands store as there is limited information on C stocks of the trees in these regions. This research postulates that shea parklands are capable of storing more C, and with the right policies farmers would be willing to continue managing the trees to obtain cash benefits. The research was divided into four components. The first component assessed the C stocks of shea parklands in the Transitional, Guinea and Sudan Savannah agroecological zones of Ghana. In each zone, field and fallow lands were subdivided into new (land under crop cultivation or fallow for 1-5 years), medium (land under crop cultivation or fallow for 6-10 years) and old (land under crop cultivation or fallow for over 10 years). The results indicate that the three zones differed significantly (p<0.05) in C stored, with Sudan savannah recording the most C (16.20 Mg ha-1). There was however no significant difference between the two phases of landuse, although the field plots stored more C. In terms of age of land-use, the three age groups were not significantly different in carbon stock, but the medium plots stored the most C (9.59 Mg ha-1). The second component of the research was to find out the policies formulated by Ghana in response to the UNFCCC international agreements and their impact on shea production in Ghana. The findings show that Ghana has responded appropriately to these international agreements and has implemented policies for the mitigation and adaption of climate change and boosting shea production in the country. In the third component, a study was conducted in the study area to identify the strategies and practices used by farmers in managing shea trees and their perceived impact on the local communities. Results of the research indicate that farmers managed shea trees using practices such as raising seedlings by natural regeneration and creation of fire-belts around farms and trees. These improved growth and yields of trees and accrued many benefits such as income, sheabutter and other shea products. The fourth aspect of the research was to find out shea farming systems that could be developed into shea carbon project models suitable for the international carbon markets. In line with the criteria of the international carbon markets, five shea carbon project models were developed. The findings also show that carbon stored in these shea project models could be significantly enhanced if the recommended tree densities and agroforestry practices are adopted. With the required policies, if these models are implemented they would help conserve shea trees to yield carbon credits that could be traded on the international forest carbon markets and the accruing incomes paid to farmers to motivate them to continue managing and protecting the shea trees. In the end, it would be a win-win situation for all; shea parklands would be conserved to store carbon to mitigate climate change for the benefit of all while cash incomes from traded shea carbon credits would be paid to the farmers to improve their livelihoods.
|Award date||7 Apr 2016|
|Place of Publication||Enschede|
|Publication status||Published - 7 Apr 2016|