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The Potential of Reducing Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) in Western Ghana

Von Johannes Förster (09.08.2010)

Forest ecosystems are rich in carbon and deforestation is causing about 18% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, strategies for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) are explored within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for mitigating climate change. It is the aim to reward tropical forest countries for the protection of their forests. Pilot activities have been initiated in Ghana and other tropical forest countries in order to test the implementation of strategies for REDD at the national and local level.

This study explores the potential of REDD in Western Ghana by quantifying the carbon emissions from forest and land cover changes over a period of 21 years using Landsat satellite images from 1986 and 2000 and ASTER satellite images from 2007. The land cover of the satellite images was classified according to the FAO Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) using ground truth data for the classification of the ASTER image and visual sampling within the Landsat images, where historical data on the land cover were missing. The change detection revealed a deforestation rate of 2.6% across the entire study site and 6.4% outside forest reserves, leaving only 12% of the land outside reserves with a mixture of old growth and secondary forests. Forest reserves cover around one third of the analysed region. There, the forest cover remained stable although degradation is reported to be common. This shows that forest degradation could not be detected with the data and methodology that was used. During the period of 21 years the conservative estimate of the gross carbon emissions is 26.8 million tC (1.3 million tC per year) over a landscape of 700,000 ha. If deforestation outside reserves can be stopped immediately about 7.8 million tC or 28.6 tCO2 could potentially be avoided from being emitted over the next decade. Although it was not possible to quantify emissions from degradation it is a common process in- and outside forest reserves across the entire landscape. Therefore, it is likely that over the long term the potential for reducing emissions from degradation is greater than reducing emissions from deforestation.

For the implementation of REDD strategies it is recommended that activities should start as early as possible in order to save the last remaining forests outside reserves. Furthermore, forest reserves should be included in a national REDD strategy in order to reduce forest degradation inside reserves. However, an equitable participation of local communities in the development of strategies for REDD is required in order to develop locally accepted strategies that take into account the needs and rights of forest dependent people.

The figures show the land cover change in Western Ghana. Outside forest reserves the loss of the forest cover is greatest, whereas inside forest reserves the forest cover remained stable.[Bildunterschrift / Subline]: The figures show the land cover change in Western Ghana. Outside forest reserves the loss of the forest cover is greatest, whereas inside forest reserves the forest cover remained stable.

  • since 2006
  • Graduate Program (M. Sc.) in Global Change Ecology, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2006-2004
  • Swedish M. Sc. in Physical Geography and Swedish B. Sc. in Biology, Umea University, Sweden
  • 2001-2003
  • Undergraduate Degree (Vordiplom) in Landscape Ecology & Nature Conservation, University of Greifswald, Germany

Berufliche Erfahrung
  • Juni 2008
  • Delegate of the IUCN to the 28th session of the UNFCCC SBSTA, Bonn, Germany
  • Okt. 2007-März 2008
  • Junior Professional Associate, IUCN Forest Conservation Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Switzerland
  • 2004-2006
  • Assistant in research and administration Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Abisko Scientific Research Station, Sweden

Praktika und Auslandsaufenthalte
  • Juli-Sept. 2007
  • IUCN Forest Conservation Programme, Climate Change and Ecosystems Initiative, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Switzerland
  • Febr.-März 2003
  • Fundación Ecológica Curiquingue, Ecuador
  • Febr. 2001
  • National Environmental Agency (Staatliches Umweltfachamt), Bautzen, Germany

  • Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes