Atebubu and Wiase Forest Landscape Restoration

Meet The Living Lab

The Living Lab Profile

“Atebubu and Wiase Forest Landscape Restoration project: A ‘Living Lab’ for community and ecological resilience” is a ten-year community-led project located in the Bono East Region in central Ghana.

This Living Lab was inspired by the community call to address local challenges of deforestation, climate change, declining soil fertility and agricultural productivity, unemployment, and frequent forest fires. The Living Lab is a combined effort between local communities, local stakeholders and international partners to support community aspirations of resilient landscapes and sustainable livelihoods hence the first-ever Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (CBA)’s Living Labs project. Thank you to His Royal Highness Charles, The Prince of Wales for establishing CBA and AstraZeneca for funding this Living Lab.

As a result, this Living Lab is inspired by the principles of circular bioeconomy and named after local communities who are the main stakeholders, “Atebubu and Wiase Forest Landscape Restoration: a Living Lab for Community and Ecological Resilience”.

The Living Lab Aim:

This ​​Living Lab primarily focuses on building community and ecological resilience through blended approaches to restore:

  1. Natural Forest restoration: 2,500 Hectares (Ha) of forest restoration in degraded areas
  2. Agroforestry and fruit trees: 1,500 Ha of agroforestry, fruit trees and regenerative agriculture to boost productivity and incomes.
  3. Incorporation of Woodlots: 1,000 Ha to be used to grow sustainable timber and fuel to reduce pressure on natural forests and provide alternative source of income for farmers

The Living Lab Objectives

This Living Lab was co-designed with and for the local communities to replenish people, biodiversity and nature:

  1. To foster ecological and community resilience through forest landscape restoration Over a ten-year period:
  • Foster ecological resilience
  • Plant and steward 4.5 million trees
  • Restore 5,000 hectares of dry and savannah forest on degraded areas, which will:
    • Enhance biodiversity.
    • Establish landscapes that are adaptive to climate change and natural disturbances.
    • Improve soil quality.
    • Purify water sources.
    • Protect watersheds.
    • Prevent erosion and floods.
    • Improve local air quality.
    • Provide shade.
    • Sequester carbon in the soil and aboveground/tree carbon.

2. To foster community resilience by ensuring permanence of the forest landscape restoration by facilitating a community Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) which will:

  • Foster women, youth and social inclusion, ;
  • Create circular business models relying on biological resources (biomaterials and bioenergy) and nature-based systems; and
  • Develop forest systems that are economically sustainable and equitable.

The Living Lan is localizing the achievement of sustainable development and Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by contributing to the following UN-SDGs.

Living Lab Duration

The implementation consists 5 years of implementation (2021-2025) and monitoring will continue up to 10 years.

Living Lab Progress

Firstly, a community baseline and needs assessment study was undertaken in 2021 with over 200 interviews with households and farmers. The results of this study helped us to fine-tune and refine the Living Lab.

Executive Summary

In 2021 we planted a trial area with 150,000 pioneer trees such as Ceiba, Senya and Dawa Dawa covering over 173 ha as part of the natural forest restoration. This trial planting has helped us improve both our nursery management and also our silvicultural techniques.

A Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) has been established and its operation on the ground is ongoing, it’s led by local communities and is supported by Nature and Development Foundation (NDF).

In 2022, about 1 million indigenous, fruit and agroforestry trees are being planted covering more than 1,000 ha of degraded land. This involves:

Planting of pioneer, native, indigenous and endangered tree species on over 500 ha of formerly forested land as part of natural forest restoration. 

And, over 200 farming households currently planting agroforestry and fruit trees such as mangoes and cashew nuts covering over 500 ha of private degraded land/plots in 11 communities around the Atebubu and Wiase areas. In each of these communities, a lead farmer has been identified to help in mobilizing local farmers, ensuring that farmers’ needs and aspirations are duly considered and in facilitating knowledge exchange in the Living Lab.

The map below shows the location of the communities engaged in agroforestry and regenerative agriculture for the year 2021-2022.



Women, youth and social inclusion are key to this Living Lab. The Living Lab continues to mobilize and include more women and young people as decision-makers in all activities. For example, more women and youth are engaged as tree nursery operators, community mobilizers and leaders in the multi-stakeholder platform.



Partnerships

The Atebubu and Wiase farmers are the main stakeholders in this Living Lab. In addition to local farmers, other Living Lab partners playing a supportive and enabling role in this Living Lab include:

Other key stakeholders in the ​Living Lab include:
- Ministry of Food and Agriculture
- CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana 

Note:  This ​Living Lab for community and ecological resilience is developed within the framework of the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance established by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales under his Sustainable Markets Initiative. The Alliance aims at catalysing investments for creating resilient landscapes and sustainable markets powered by Nature.

Meet our experienced diverse international and local staff members.

15 Facts & Questions

"Atebubu and Wiase Forest Landscape Restoration project: A living lab for community and ecological resilience” is a ten-year project located in the Bono East Region in central Ghana. 

1. Why was Atebubu-Wiase area chosen as the Living Lab location?

Two of the Living Lab partners have worked in this area for several years and are familiar with community challenges and opportunity for a forest landscape restoration project.

This is a key area for charcoal and firewood production, and the natural forested land has been subject to heavy encroachment by farmers and illegal tree cutting for charcoal. Degradation, habitat change from dry forest to savannah woodland and agricultural clearance has also contributed to the intensity and incidence of wildfires and encroachment on forested land.

2. What are the key ​Living Lab activities?

This Living Lab is a 10-year community-based project, which aims to foster both ecological and community resilience. It will demonstrate and share lessons on the power of biodiversity regeneration and a nature-inspired economy to catalyze local jobs, livelihoods, and economic alternatives – all co-designed with local stakeholders.

The Living Lab will primarily focus on:

  • Natural Forest: 2,500 Hectares (Ha) of forest restoration in degraded areas
  • Woodlots: 1,000 Ha to be used to grow sustainable timber and fuel to reduce pressure on natural forests
  • Agroforestry: 1,500 Ha of agroforestry and regenerative agriculture
3. What types of trees will be planted?

We are working with local farmers & experts to decide which trees to plant in right places for right reasons. They will be a mix of trees:

  • Fruit and nut trees, such as cashew, mango and citrus
  • Quick growing trees for timber such as teak and eucalyptus
  • Natural forest restoration areas we will focus on trees native to the area and pioneer species
  • Other agroforestry trees such as Milicia excelsa, Terminalia ivorensis, T. superba, Triplochiton scleroxylon
4. When will planting begin?

Tree planting/growing already started with a trial of 150,000 trees in August of 2021. The main planting starts in the year 2022 and for the next 3 years.  

Focus in the pilot planting was on 3 main “pioneer species” Ceiba (Ceiba Pentandra), Senya (Daniellia Oliveri) and Dawa Dawa (Parkia Biglobosa). These species were chosen because they have high levels of resilience, should establish well and because of the availability of local seed. 

These pioneer species will help to develop shelter and shade, which in turn will create the right environment for natural regeneration of a wider range of species.  

 This year 2022, close to one million trees are being planted to restore over 1,000 ha of degraded land. This involves:

  • Planting of pioneer, native, indigenous and endangered tree species on over 500 ha of formerly forested land as part of natural forest restoration.   
  • And, over 200 farming households currently planting agroforestry and fruit trees such as mangoes and cashew nuts covering over 500 ha of private degraded land/plots in 11 communities around the Atebubu and Wiase areas. In each of these communities, a lead farmer has been identified to help in mobilizing local farmers, ensuring that farmers’ needs and aspirations are duly considered and facilitating knowledge exchange in the Living Lab.


5. Will ​the Living Lab involve commercial monoculture plantations?

Not directly, some of the agroforestry areas may include orchards of single species such as mango, cashew and citrus.
Woodlots may include small areas of fast-growing species which are easier to manage in single species stands and reduce dependence on natural forests for timber and wood.
Our ambition is to blend the agroforestry and woodlot areas which should help improve resilience and reduce risks by planting a range of species.
One of the Living Lab partner Africa Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD), has commercial plantations of Eucalyptus and Acacia in the region. APSD are in the process of getting their plantations certified to Forest Stewardship Council®, an international sustainability standard for forest management.

6. What is the difference between natural forest, woodlots and agroforestry?

The difference is mainly about priorities and species choice.

  • Natural forest – priority is to restore forests and biodiversity with native tree species.
  • Woodlots – priority is to grow timber & fuel trees and to provide local farmers with an alternative source of income and reduce harvesting pressure on local natural forests. 
  • Agroforestry – priority is to integrate food crops and appropriate trees to boost agricultural productivity while increasing green cover and biodiversity in farm landscapes.

Our ambition is to blend the agroforestry and woodlot areas which should help improve resilience and reduce risks by planting a range of species and increase revenue to community farmers.

7. Tree planting projects in Africa have been criticized as green colonialism for ignoring the local social and ecological context. How will the Atebubu ​Living Lab foster ecological and community resilience?
  • The Living Lab is based on the foundations of local community leadership to address local community challenges through solutions co-designed with and for local communities.
  • The first step of the Living Lab was to hold a stakeholder and community meeting held in December 2020.
  • Initial discussions with Atebubu Traditional Council were held. The Council have welcomed the project and are keen to participate further. 
  • Living Lab partners Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) has recently completed a baseline assessment with local communities and spoke to over 237 people. 
  • Two local community-based Liaison Officers have been recruited, and a multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) established. The MSP will continue to engage local stakeholders including landowners, land managers, communities, civil society, governments, youth, women groups and the private sector to collectively design, govern and benefit from the Living Lab .
8. What are the principles followed by this Living Labs/ New Generation Plantations to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project?

The Living Lab will follow the CBA (See 12.)  Principles for Creating Regenerative Landscapes:

To accelerate land restoration, our aim is to create landscapes that are: 

  • Ecologically resilient and healthy 
  • Socially fair and inclusive 
  • Economically sustainable and equitable 
  • Beautiful and spiritually inspiring

In addition, the Living Lab will follow Plan Vivo’s standardized “Approved Approaches”. An Approved Approach is a methodology or tool that is used in the quantification or justification of climate benefits, risk, additionality or monitoring data for a Plan Vivo project or prospective Plan Vivo project.

9. How much carbon will be sequestered?

The total volume of carbon sequestered will be determined by the choices made by the local community and the multi stakeholder platform regarding tree species choice and management. Our initial nominal assessment is that within 10 years: 

2,500 hectares (Ha) of Natural forest area, will sequester circa 100 t CO2 per Ha - subtotal 250,000 tonnes. 

2,500 Ha of Woodlots and Agroforestry 50 tones CO2 per Ha – subtotal 125,000 tonnes. 

This is a conservative assessment and within 20 years we would expect this figure to double.

Total 750,000 tonnes

10. What is a Living Lab?

Living Labs is concept of the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (See 12.) Living Labs demonstrate how harmony can be achieved by empowering nature and people in a concrete territorial context, integrating traditional knowledge, capitalizing on new research and innovation, and based on public-private partnerships that place local communities at their centre.

Each Living Lab uses a landscape restoration project as the starting point to catalyze the development of circular bioeconomy value chains while restoring biodiversity and local livelihoods. They are the start of a journey towards more resilient communities and landscapes.

11. Who are the ​Living Lab partners?
  • Local communities and farmers
  • Circular Bioeconomy Alliance / European Forest Institute
  • AstraZeneca
  • Nature and Development Foundation (NDF)
  • Africa Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD)
  • New Generation Plantation Technical Assistance (NGPTA)
12. What is the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance?

The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance aims to accelerate the transition to a circular bioeconomy that is climate neutral, inclusive and prospers in harmony with nature.

The Alliance was established by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, in 2020. It provides knowledge-informed support as well as a learning and networking platform to connect the dots between investors, companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and local communities to advance the circular bioeconomy while restoring biodiversity globally.

13. What is Nature and Development Foundation?

Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) will be responsible for management and co-ordination of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform. NDF are a Ghanaian NGO with partners across West Africa. NDF have experience of working and collaborating with government, local community, private sector, industry associations and other civil society bodies to deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of people whiles ensuring conservation of natural resources.

14. What is NGPTA?

NGPTA is providing technical support and sustainable land/forests management advice, based on the accumulated experience and know-how of the long-term WWF knowledge-sharing platform on sustainable plantation management, New Generation Plantations (NGP).

 NGP has four key principles:

  • Maintain ecosystem integrity
  • Protect and enhance high conservation values
  • Be developed through effective stakeholder involvement processes. 
  • Contribute to economic growth and employment.
15. What is the African Plantations for Sustainable Development?

African Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD)is an established plantation forestry company, which has been active in the region for 10+ years. Working with local community leaders, APSD has a concession of 30,000 hectares of which approximately 9,000 ha is plantation forestry. APSD has an established nursery and is investing in timber processing.

 APSD has three main focuses:

  • Develop & expand a sustainable forest product business.
  • Ensure that the forest management meets the requirements of Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) certification.
  • Create shared value opportunities with the local community.