The Implications of Land Tenure and Ownership Regimes on Sustainable Mangrove Management and Conservation in Two Ramsar Sites in Ghana
In spite of their economic and ecological signiﬁcance, mangroves in most coastal communities, including Ramsar sites in Ghana have witnessed unprecedented exploitation, leading to degradation of the ecosystem. In the face of this degradation, several restoration and conservation interventions have been implemented by both government and civil society organizations in collaboration with the communities. However, these eﬀorts directed at mangrove conservation and restoration in the Songor and Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar sites have largely failed to improve the conservation and sustainable use of mangroves, because key issues relating to access, ownership regimes and land tenure are often overlooked. The study therefore focused exclusively on exploring these governance issues and how they inﬂuence the sustainable conservation and utilization of mangroves in the two Ramsar sites. Eleven communities from the Songor Ramsar site and the Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site were involved in the study. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tools such as key informant interviews, focus group discussions and direct observations, as well as questionnaires were employed in generating data on ownership regimes and how they inﬂuence the management and conservation of mangroves. The results showed that the existing ownership regime of mangrove resources has a direct bearing on the eﬀectiveness of mangrove conservation and utilization. While mangroves under individual ownership dominated at Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site, family owned mangroves dominated the Songor Ramsar site. Most of the existing mangrove ownership regimes (community, clan or family lands) in the area allow access to the people to exploit mangrove resources indiscriminately without restrictions/regulations which results in over exploitation and degradation. Given the weakness of eﬀective governance regimes and inadequacy of a formal legal framework governing mangroves in the Ramsar sites, a collaborative eﬀort between the Forestry Commission and the communities or individually owned mangrove areas that “formalizes” mangrove management present the best opportunity to regulate access and exploitation of the mangroves at the Songor and Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar sites, by providing legal backing to the community governance arrangements for sustainable conservation and restoration eﬀorts.
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