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UNDP PARTNERS STAKEHOLDERS ON CREMA CONCEPT IMPLEMENTATION

A National Policy Dialogue has been held to engage key stakeholders in productive discussions to address the challenges confronting the operationalization of Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) — a natural resource management concept.


The Dialogue, which took place on the theme: Empowering communities to manage natural resources sustainably—a review of Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) implementation in Ghana, brought stakeholders together to discuss the successes and challenges facing the CREMA concept and propose actions which will inform the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) of a Wildlife Law, when passed, to promote the effectiveness of CREMAs.


Participants included CREMA members, natural resource experts, representatives of civil society organisations and development partners.


It was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Mondelez International-Cocoa Life Program, Ghana Cocoa Board, Green Livelihood Alliance (A Rocha Ghana, Tropenbos and Friends of the Earth) SNV Ghana, Shared Resources Joint Solutions (SRJS) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


In an address at the opening of the conference in Accra, yesterday, October 3, 2018, Hon. Benito Owusu Bio, Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, disclosed that the Wildlife Resource Management Bill would soon be placed before Parliament for passage into Law.


Hon. Bio said the passage of the Bill into Law would back community participation, governance and ownership of the natural resources, particularly, the wildlife and forest resources.


The Law, he said, would also consolidate all the fragmented policies on natural resource conservation and give a backing to the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) for the protection of Ghana’s biodiversity and ecosystem.


The Deputy Minister gave the assurance that the government would equip community-based natural resource governance systems for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of the natural resources.


Hon. Bio also pledged the Ministry’s commitment towards the project—Enhancing Natural Forest and Agro-forest Landscape— to enhance the governance of CREMA in five selected blocs in the Western Region.


To that effect, he said, the Ministry was constructing offices in each of the five CREMA blocs in the Region to enhance their activities.


In a statement, Mr Louis Kuukpen, UNDP Assistant Country Director, noted that the management of natural resources had become one of the most perilous tests facing developing countries across the globe in the present generation.


Mr Kuukpen said the pressure and competition for diminishing renewable resources, such as land, water and fisheries—a trend worsened by degradation, population growth and climate change— had the potential to drive new conflicts and obstruct the peaceful resolution of existing ones.


It was, therefore, in the light of these potential challenges, he said, that the use of CREMA as a natural resource management concept was commendable.


He said having identified that the CREMA concept was facing implementation challenges in some areas, there was the need to re-examine the concept and formulate strategies that would address the gaps in the implementation of the concept in order to make it functional and effective.


Mr Kuukpen referred to Article 10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity which, he said, acknowledged that in order to effectively conserve biological diversity, there would be the need to support local communities to develop and implement actions to sustain the perpetual use of renewable natural resources.


The UNDP Assistant Country Director also noted that the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12, which focusses on responsible consumption and production, represented a giant step forward for the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of natural resources.


The Dialogue, he said, was, therefore, in line with UNDP’s efforts to promote the conservation and protection of biological diversity as well as the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of natural resources in local communities.


In a bid to make full use of wildlife and forest resources to meet socio-economic needs, most of the natural resources have been depleted.


According to the Ghana Forest Investment Programme, Ghana loses two per cent of its forest annually, translating into the loss of seven hundred thousand hectares of forest cover and wildlife habitat.


To contain the unsustainable use of Ghana’s natural resources and to ensure their responsible use and management, the Wildlife Division’s Policy for Collaborative Community-Based Wildlife Management in the year 2000 proposed CREMA proposed as one of the strategies.


Accordingly, various stakeholders, including the UNDP, established CREMA at various locations in Ghana to co-manage natural resources for their livelihood
The CREMA concept is based on the establishment of areas where natural resource management is incorporated into existing land use, with the community as the lowest management unit, with the objective of moving away from the strict regulatory conservation of natural resources.


With this concept, a functional CREMA is expected to come under a two-tiered governance structure; an approved constitution with rules and regulations; backing in the form of local government bye-laws; the power to engage their own staff and the authority to generate revenue from the management of the natural resource within a well-defined boundary that covers a number of participating communities.


By the management structure, each community is required to create a Community Resource Management Committee (CRMC) whose members are elected by the community to lead the implementation of activities within a defined territory.


Under the structure, the CRMC is to liaise with the CREMA Executive Committee (CEC), which is the overall management body that oversees CREMA operations and decision-making.


Once a CREMA is granted a Certificate of Devolution by the Government, authority for the management and utilization of resources within the crema is devolved on people in the participating communities led by CEC.


This devolution of authority requires that the responsibility for regulating hunting and trading in relation to wildlife, prosecution for illegal and general enforcement of the CREMA bye-laws in collaboration with the relevant District Assemblies, Forestry Commission and other law enforcement agencies.


However, while CREMAs appear to have made progress in the implementation of their mandate in some areas, in other areas, they face challenges of actual devolution of authority, financial sustainability, transparency in CREMA governance and management, law enforcement and compliance in relation to CREMA bye-laws and other legislation on natural resource management.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney, Esq.)