Polycentric Governance and Social-Ecological Performance of Community Resource Management Areas in Ghana




Agyare, Andrew Kyei

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Biodiversity secures long term flows of benefits from nature by providing resilience to disturbance and environmental change. Nevertheless, climate change, fragmentation and habitat destruction among other anthropogenic drivers, are inadvertently, causing continued decline of global biodiversity, at a rate that is 100-1000 times more than what can be considered as natural, sending it virtually to the brink. Protected Areas (PAs) remain the core strategy for biodiversity conservation, but they have been challenged for “denying” local communities, the flow of their bona fide benefits and contributing to rural poverty, and compromising conservation as a result. Community Based Natural Resources Governance (CBNRG) responds to the challenge, but the challenge is exacerbated by the fact that a broad array of desired outcomes as well as a large range of unlinked and uncoordinated nodes of governance (actors) across multiple scales are involved in governance within the same social-ecological system. These result in failure to achieve desired conservation and development related outcomes. Furthermore, many assessments of conservation and development outcomes have often concentrated on perceived outcomes, without much attention to the desired outcomes of actors. Additionally, many studies do not investigate variability between the desired and perceived outcomes of different actors in different CBNRG systems, and within the same CBNRG system. This masks differences among actors across and within CBNRG systems and makes it difficult to gauge governance effectiveness, and probably leads to incomplete assessments CBNRG systems, and simplistic conclusions that can affect the long term credibility of CBNRG. This dissertation contributes to the discussions by focusing on five Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) in Ghana to address challenges of governance and social-ecological performance through analysis of the governance structure related to CREMAs at the local, district and regional levels. It assesses how the governance system encounters the issue of fragmentation, the problems associated with conservation and development, and weaknesses associated with measuring the viability of CBNRG systems. Data was collected through multiple methods. Document analysis and interviews were conducted to facilitate design of a survey, administered to 929 respondents across the five CREMAs. Three workshops that engaged a total of 50 participants were also conducted. Findings of the study are organized in three chapters (papers). Chapter One suggests that the form and content of multi actor linkages as presently constructed in Ghana have gaps and weaknesses such as inter alia, inadequate funding and attention to conservation and development as a distinct project. Therefore in its current configuration, CREMAs cannot achieve a balance between conservation and development. Chapter Two shows that based on a mix of factors that mediate CBNRG, significant variability in desired and perceived outcomes of actors can exist between and within different CBNRG systems. Chapter Three points to variability in the ratings of outcomes among actors in different communities within the same CBNRG system. Consequently, it is important that CBNRG considers the specific conservation and development perspectives of actors in different contexts, in order to customize Community Based Natural Resources Management strategies.



Linkages, Nodes of governance, CREMA, Community, CBNRG system, Development, Actors, Avu Lagoon, Resource management, Outcomes, Ghana, Variability, Protected Areas, Conservation, Natural Resources