Rainforest Alliance-Olam Partnership for Livelihoods and Forest Landscape Management in Western Ghana

Type of partnership
Forest Partnership
Current status

Partnerships for Forests is supporting the Rainforest Alliance-Olam Partnership for Livelihoods and Forest Landscape Management in Western Ghana to promote improved landscape governance by setting up Landscape Management Boards with a legal mandate to ensure forest protection while providing economic incentives for smallholder cocoa households within the landscape.


The rate of deforestation within the high forest zones of Ghana is alarmingly high due to several factors of which cocoa is key. Between 2010-2014 Olam, together with Rainforest Alliance and the Forestry Commission, implemented a Climate Smart Cocoa Project in the Juaboso-Bia district in the Western Region of Ghana. The project focused on establishing a forest landscape governance structure; cocoa certification programme; sustainable forest management; development of forest enterprises; and climate change education. The intervention resulted in noticeable increases in the volumes of certified and traceable cocoa and a massive reduction in forest encroachment in the area. The project also provided the beneficiaries with substantial social, environmental and economic benefits. Following the project’s success, the partners have decided to replicate this model within a different landscape – the Sui-River Forest Reserve and the Boin River Forest Reserve.

This landscape, which covers 61,190 ha and is home to approximately 50,000 households who exert pressure on its resources, is under threat due to indiscriminate logging, farming (shifting cultivation), generation of fuelwood, massive deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity. Illegal farming and expansionist agriculture have become the norm, and to help halt the massive deforestation within this landscape, there is the need to create a forest landscape governance structure.


The Project

Partnerships for Forests is supporting a partnership between Rainforest Alliance, Olam, the Ghana Forestry Commission, and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to work with local communities and cocoa farming households to establish a local multi-stakeholder governance mechanism. These Landscape Management Boards (LMBs) will protect the forest and promote sustainable and certified cocoa production within the landscape. The LMBs will be made up of farmers, local chiefs, Forestry Commission representatives, opinion leaders, Olam representatives and land owners. This structure will enable joint planning and strategy definition for sustainable, landscape-based, integrated natural resource management and devolution of stewardship to local institutions, while also ensuring the equitable distribution of benefits to the local communities.

The LMBs will have a mandate to plan and monitor economic and natural resource management activities within the landscape. They will use an inclusive decision-making process integrating consultations with the producer groups (who will implement climate-smart and sustainable productive farming practices) and the communities, facilitating land use planning that benefits crop production while conserving the forest. The national and local government will be involved to promote enabling policies and to provide technical support to sustainable production practices and forest conservation.

The model will also work with farmers to help them meet best management practices of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Standard and the Olam Livelihoods Charter. It has been shown that improving cocoa management practices and related yields and profitability helps to restore tree cover on farms and reduce pressure on surrounding forests.

The project will apply a proven model to an underperforming area to increase the volume of certified and traceable cocoa, improve yield and quality, and investment in long-term relationships to improve supply security in a key producing region for one of the largest private buyers of cocoa in Ghana. It is expected that the project will lead to the avoided degradation from high to low shade cocoa of 11,000 ha, reforestation of 5,000 ha of degraded lands, and avoided deforestation in buffer zones of the forest reserve totalling 4,800 ha. The intervention will also benefit approximately 10,000 households in the landscape. By 2020 it is estimated that 56,000 ha will have been brought under sustainable management, that £41,874,750 worth of private investment will have been mobilised, and that 28,000 people will have benefited as a result of the project.


Lead Organisation: Rainforest Alliance

Implementing Organisations:

Public: Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Ghana Forestry Commission

Private: Olam Ghana

Civil Society: Save the Frogs! Ghana, Rainforest Alliance, and local communities (farmers)