CIFOR-ICRAF initiates participatory 3-dimensional mapping of Kwaebibirem municipality in Eastern Ghana

By: Yvonne Baraza

Immediate left: Dr Ashiagbor George (KNUST) explaining details of the map to Oil Palm Working Group representatives. Photo – Yvonne Baraza/CIFOR-ICRAF.

The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF), together with partner Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), successfully co-ordinated the first-ever Participatory 3-Dimensional Mapping (P3DM) of Kwaebibirem Municipality in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

CIFOR-ICRAF has been working with public and private stakeholders in the Kawebibirem-Atiwa landscape under a Governing Multifunctional Landscapes (GML) project. They are co-designing a Landscape Development Strategy that supports coordinated planning and action towards more sustainable and people-centred agro-commodity production. The mapping exercise involved geography and agriculture students from Asuom and Kade Senior Technical Schools; members of Asuom, Kade and Takyiman communities, including smallholder farmers and farmer associations; and artisanal oil palm processors (locally known as ‘Kramers’), oil palm processing companies (Serendipalm, Ghana Oil Palm Development Corporation and Birim Oils) and tree crop research institutes (Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Centre and CSIR-Oil Palm Research Institute). The CIFOR-ICRAF research team and KNUST engaged effectively with participants to build a 3-D map of their municipality. The exercise enriched the municipality’s map and encouraged more collaborative relationships between various stakeholders that can help develop their municipality.

Mosaic photo collection of the 3-D mapping exercise and closing ceremony in Kwaebibirem Municipality, Eastern Ghana. Photo – Yvonne Baraza/CIFOR-ICRAF

For approximately two weeks, the locals shared their knowledge and input it on the 3-D map through paint, pins and yarn during the participatory workshop hosted at Kade Senior Technical High School in Kade town. CIFOR-ICRAF then officially handed over the 3-D map to the municipality during a colourful ceremony at the Municipal Department of Agriculture at Kade on 21 October 2021. The event brought together Hon. Antwi Bosiako Seth, the Kwaebibirem Municipal Chief Executive, and his Municipal Planning Officer; Barima Amoah Bosompem III,  Subihene (Chief of Subi); Mr Nartey Anthony, Municipal Director of Agriculture, and his Municipal Agriculture Officer; Mr Bediako Emmanuel, Municipal Director of Education; Mr Kingsley Joseph, representative of Agricultural Extension Agents; representatives from oil palm companies and Kramers; community members; and the students.

“I urge the Municipal Department of Agriculture to use the map for their agricultural extension activities and in planning for the agricultural activities in our municipality,” said Hon. Antwi Bosiako Seth. “On behalf of the municipality, I want to thank CIFOR-ICRAF for this initiative, as the model will store knowledge and stories of generations.”

“Participatory mapping prioritizes the voices of the local community in their development paths; it also has a powerful application as a communication tool with the local policymakers who are already working towards a better future for the people,” said ‘Nana’ Amoah Bosompem III. “On behalf of other chiefs, as the custodians of lands, I now believe that mapping should be a compulsory practice because it brings out the knowledge of the communities, and we get to know how best we can protect and nurture our lands.”

The map shows major cash crops grown in the municipality, e.g., cocoa, oil palm and rubber. The GML project focuses on enhancing agricultural production and development. It also shows the Atewa Forest Range and other forests that the project aims to conserve by promoting sustainable agricultural development-sustainable intensification, improved service delivery to farmer, and inclusivity of smallholder farmers in development processes to help curb agriculture-driven deforestation.

“From the map, we can clearly see the oil palm concessional areas, the Kramers’ sites of operations and infrastructures, which are vital in spatial planning for land use. The map also shows areas that have or had mining and marked reclaimed regions. The GML project is set to strategize based on these maps and promote the growth of crops on these lands,” said Margaret Arwari, CIFOR-ICRAF Research Assistant.

The GML project has four working package platforms: cocoa, oil palm, rubber and land reclamation sectors. They will continue to provide more input, update and make use of the map to fulfil their mandate of developing strategies for their respective industries. CIFOR-ICRAF hopes the Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders will use the map as a visual aid for planning development activities, agricultural training sessions and other initiatives for the district.

CIFOR-ICRAF and the Faculty of Natural Resources of KNUST organized the mapping workshop in the framework of the European-funded GML project. The project aims to implement a jurisdictional approach in Eastern Ghana’s Atiwa West-Kwaebibirem landscape and decouple agriculture expansion and deforestation in the region.