Opportunities and capacity for community-based forest carbon sequestration and monitoring in Ghana
International efforts to address global climate change will certainly include Africa’s forests, for example through efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD)(Sandker et al. 2010). Whether these efforts harm or provide new opportunities for rural people will depend on how programs are designed. In Ghana, as in many developing countries, there are few reliable data for estimating current forest carbon stocks. Newly established forest plantations constitute one of the largest and most immediate sources for changes in carbon stock in the country. The government and other organizations are presently establishing forest plantations at a rate of 20,000 hectares annually. Monitoring carbon in forest plantations will be an important component of REDD efforts in Ghana. While methods based on remote sensing can support country-level assessments (Patenaude et al. 2005), ground-based measurements and ground truthing are needed to validate remote sensing results and to provide more reliable estimates of change. While ground-based forest inventories are expensive, approaches that involve local people directly in data collection and interpretation have been shown to overcome resource limitations while at the same time improving conservation project success by linking monitoring to the decisions of local people and building cooperation between local people and the authorities (Blay et al., 2008; Appiah, 2009). Over the past ten years the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) has been working in a benefit-sharing scheme with ten forest fringe communities to restore degraded forest reserve land (Blay et al., 2008). Forest plantations using mostly native tree species have been established through a modified taungya agroforestry system.