Conservation and Natural Resource Management in the Ankasa Resource Reserve, Ghana
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Community-based natural resource management has been introduced in Ghana as an instrument to assist nature conservation and natural resource management, as opposed to the fences and fines approach of the protectionist model. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent of natural resource exploitation by the local communities in and around the Ankasa Resource Reserve after the introduction of the Amokwawsuazo Community Resource Management (ACREMA) programme. Particularly, the study sought to understand whether the implementation of ACREMA has helped to achieve nature conservation and natural resource management inside and outside the Reserve. The specific study objectives were as follows. First, the study seeks to assess the socio-demographic characteristics and economic activities of ACREMA community members. Second, the impact of ACREMA community members’ activities on natural resources of the Reserve was assessed. Third, the extent of natural resource exploitation after ACREMA was evaluated. Fourth, examine the measures undertaken to minimise natural resource exploitation in the Ankasa Resource Reserve after ACREMA was introduced. Fifth, the research assessed the ACREMA community members’ willingness to support nature conservation and other alternative livelihood programmes such as tourism. Finally, the research sought to provide guidelines and recommendations for policy makers, park management and other parties interested in the implementation of any development project in the Ankasa region. The study was justified because very little has been documented about the effectiveness of this approach in promoting nature conservation in Africa. Therefore, this study could contribute to understanding of the effectiveness of community-based resource management programmes in achieving nature conservation in Ghana. In order to achieve the objectives set, the study developed a conceptual framework based on social exchange theory. Social exchange theory conceptualises human behaviour as an exchange of goods and services, both tangible and intangible, and based on rewards for services rendered. The study combined both quantitative and qualitative research techniques. Hence, the main modes of data capture were survey, focus group interviews and in-depth interview. While quantitative data was analysed using SPSS version 14, qualitative data obtained were transcribed and analysed according to emerging themes. The results showed that natural resource exploitation declined following the introduction of ACREMA. This was as a result of the more effective collaboration and partnership developed between park management and local community members. Where exploitation existed, the study showed that this was primarily due to poverty and a lack of alternative resources. Secondly, the research demonstrated that ACREMA community members were willing to support nature conservation and as a result have undertaken several measures to minimise natural resource exploitation within the Ankasa region. The high level of enthusiasm to support nature conservation and tourism development was largely attributed to benefits already received for undertaken conservation measures as well as benefits perceived to result from the development of tourism in the future. Due to lack of alternative livelihoods, household heads also expressed interest in providing tourism-related services such as accommodation, catering services, working as drivers and tour guides if and when tourism becomes available in the region. This case study confirms that community-based natural resource management has been successful in achieving nature conservation and natural resource management in the Ankasa Resource Reserve and area. The study also provided several policy implications and pointed out areas for further study.