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Literature Review: Impacts of Protected Areas on Livelihoods in Ghana

Info: 5117 words (20 pages) Dissertation
Published: 11th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Environmental StudiesInternational Studies



2.1 Introduction

Literature review is “the selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data, and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfil certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, as well as the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed” (Hart, 1998, p.13, Scoones, 1998). This chapter focuses on theoretical and conceptual issues relevant to the objectives of the study, and is divided into seven main sub-headings namely: values and benefits of protected areas, governance of protected areas, the concept of sustainable livelihoods, impacts of protected areas on livelihoods in Ghana, effectiveness of protected areas, conceptual framework, and summary of research gaps.

2.2 Values and Benefits of Protected Areas

PAs provide a wide array of benefits (Worboys et al., 2015, Dudley and Stolton, 2010). These benefits have been grouped into four: supporting services, provisioning services, regulating services, and cultural services (Table 2.1) (Worboys et al., 2015, p.147). In addition to these benefits, the values for which PAs are established have received some attention in the literature. Values are important with regard to conceptualising PAs (Worboys et al., 2015) since they serve as a foundation upon which PAs are established and deemed relevant (Lockwood, 2006). PA values have been categorised in several ways in the literature. While some studies are interested in the “intrinsic values” (values that don’t benefit humans in a direct manner), and “instrumental values” (values that enure to humans’ benefit) (Harmon and Putney, 2003, p.16), others categorize them into “direct values”, “indirect values”, and “non-use values” (Worboys et al., 2015, p.156). Direct values include those that benefit humans directly, whereas indirect values are related to those that provide regulating services (see Table 2.1). Non-use values are related to values that conserve certain aspects of nature, not necessarily because they are providing any forms of benefits to people in the short term (Worboys et al., 2015, Dudley and Stolton, 2010). These values (direct, indirect, non-use, intrinsic, and instrumental) are all encapsulated in Hockings et al. (2006) categorization of types of values: ecological, and socio-economic and cultural (Table 2.2).

Table 2.1: Benefits of protected areas

Supporting Services Provisioning Services Regulating Services Cultural Services
Maintenance of ecosystem process

Lifecycle maintenance

Maintenance and protection of biodiversity

Provision of food

Provision of water

Provision of raw materials such as timber, wood, and fibre

Provision of resources of medicinal values

Provision of ornamental resources

Provision of genetic resources

Climate regulation

Regulation of natural hazards

Purification and detoxification of water, air, and soil

Regulation of water/water flow


Pest and disease regulation

Recreation and tourism opportunities

Aesthetic values

Inspiration for the Arts

Information for education and research

Spiritual and religious experience

Cultural identity and heritage

Mental health and well-being

Peace and stability

Source: Adapted from Worboys et al. (2015, p.147)

Ecological Socio-economic and cultural
Ecosystem services/functions

  • Catchment management and water supply
  • Soil conservation
  • Climate and disaster mitigation
  • Clean air/pollution mitigation


  • Ecosystem level
  • Species level (rare and threatened, economically or socially important species etc.)
  • Local Population level
  • Genetic level

Landscape and geological

  • Evidence of formation and ongoing geological processes
  • Fossils
  • Special geological formations and landscape features
  • Water bodies and wetlands

  • Spiritual (e.g. sacred sites)
  • Indigenous heritage
  • Historical
  • Aesthetic/artistic


  • Recreation
  • Green space
  • Scenic


  • Tourism
  • Adjacent land-values
  • Sustainable resource harvesting

Research and education

  • Benchmark sites
  • Research
  • Formal education
  • Interpretation

Table 2.2: Protected area values

Source: Hockings et al. (2006, p.14)

2.3 Governance of Protected Areas

Protected areas are not created for their own sakes, but “within existing governance frames” (Eklund and Cabeza, 2016, p.5). Governance is defined as “the interactions among structures, processes and traditions that determine how power and responsibilities are exercised, how decisions are taken, and how citizens or other stakeholders have their say” (Graham et al., 2003, p.2). Governance of PAs usually attempts to create a balance between meeting the social and economic needs of people, while at the same time ensuring preservation and conservation of ecosystem biodiversity (Worboys et al., 2015). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress which took place in Durban in 2003 is believed to have marked the commencement of significant focus and recognition of PA governance globally (Lockwood, 2010). Governance is a major component of PA effectiveness which influences the achievement of PA objectives (Dearden et al., 2005).

2.3.1 Forest Governance in Ghana

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) is the main institution tasked by law to manage forests in Ghana (Ros-Tonen et al., 2010). Two institutions under the MLNR that play important roles in governance are the Forestry Commission (FC), and the Administrator of Stool Lands. The FC comprises three arms: Forest Services Division (FSD), the Wildlife Division (WD), and the Timber Development Division (TIDD) (Ros-Tonen et al., 2010). The main duty of the FC is to ensure that management goals are attained, and policies and laws governing forests are executed (Derkyi et al., 2013, Opoku, 2006).

A study conducted in Ghana’s HFZ (see Ros-Tonen et al., 2010), describes Ghana’s forest governance approach to be a mixture of hierarchical governance and co-governance (co-management) in principle, but largely hierarchical in practice – in most cases at the expense of co-governance. This claim is confirmed by Derkyi (2012) who also conducted a study in Ghana’s HFZ. The hierarchical approach, according to Ros-Tonen et al. (2010, p.64) has the following negative implications:

  • confusion regarding the application of forest laws for forest reserves and ‘off-reserve’ areas;
  • no inculcation of conflict management and analysis in the training of managers of forest resources; and
  • high recognition for ‘statutory laws’ at the expense of ‘customary laws’, which leads to innumerable conflicts. Communities and Forest Governance in Ghana

Communities are “groups of people that share a particular geographical space and its natural resources but that are not necessarily homogenous in terms of interests and socio-economic positions” (Ros-Tonen et al., 2010, p.67). There are five main categories of communities on the fringes of forests (FFCs):

  1. people who have the rights of ownership over forests;
  2. people who occupy lands that are within about 1 – 5km to forests;
  3. People who utilize forest resources such as game, non-timber forest products (NTFPs), and timber;
  4. people who are impacted by changes in forests, or impact forests themselves negatively; and
  5. people who contribute positively to the management of forests (Asare, 2000).

A study in Ghana claimed that communities near forests have been urged to engage in community plantation schemes (Ros-Tonen et al., 2010). The extent to which these schemes are working, and are profitable to rural FFC members remains a subject of limited research in the Ghanaian literature (Derkyi, 2012).

2.4 The Concept of Sustainable Livelihoods

The need to ensure that livelihoods of people are sustained cannot be over-emphasized. According to Appiah (2009, p.873), “survival strategies” of people in rural areas strongly depend on the extent to which sustainable livelihood options are available to them. Livelihood refers to “the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living” (Scoones, 1998, p.5). Scoones defines sustainable livelihood as a livelihood that “can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, while not undermining the natural resource base” (Scoones, 1998, p.5). The sustainable livelihood concept is very useful since it allows various aspects of livelihoods and factors that influence it to be captured into one framework for in-depth analysis. According to Carney (1999), the sustainable livelihoods approach is important since it paints a clear picture of rural life and rural poverty hence making it easier for poverty reduction interventions to be adequately applied to particular issues. Furthermore, the sustainable livelihood approach fully recognises the role played by different actors in the livelihood discourse (Scoones, 1998).

Scoones encapsulates the various components of sustainable rural livelihoods in the “IDS sustainable rural livelihoods framework” (Scoones, 1998, p.3) (Figure 2.1), which “shows how in different contexts, sustainable livelihoods are achieved through access to a range of livelihood resources (natural, economic, human, and social capital) which are combined in the pursuit of different livelihood strategies (agricultural intensification or extensification, livelihood diversification, and migration).” (Scoones, 1998, p.1).


Figure 2.1: IDS sustainable rural livelihoods framework. Source: Adapted from Scoones (1998, p.4)

Three main components of this framework are relevant to this research: livelihood resources, livelihood strategies/pathways and outcomes, and institutions and organizations.

  1. Livelihood resources: The ability of individuals to employ different livelihood strategies rests largely on the presence of “capital” or “basic material and social tangible and intangible assets” (Scoones, 1998, p.7). In Figure 2.1, four categories of livelihood resources are outlined: natural capital, economic/financial capital, human capital, and social capital. According to Scoones (1998, pp.7 – 8):
  • natural capital includes natural resources such as soil, water, and air;
  • economic or financial capital includes “economic assets” such as savings, credit etc. which aid various livelihood strategies;
  • human capital includes skills and abilities that people possess which help them to pursue different livelihood strategies/pathways; and
  • social capital includes the social resources (networks, social claims, social relations, affiliations, associations) upon which people draw when pursuing different forms of livelihood strategies.

In the quest to obtain livelihood resources (capital), various actors may have different levels of access and opportunities. Depending on the actor or stakeholder involved, there may be desirable or undesirable outcomes resulting from “trade-offs” (Chambers and Conway, 1992). The existence of trade-offs influences the attainment of sustainable livelihood according to Scoones (1998). The issue of trade-offs in relation to management of ecosystem services will be discussed further in section 2.6.2.

  1. Livelihood strategies and outcomes: Three broad divisions of livelihood strategies are identified in Figure 2.1: agricultural intensification/extensification, livelihood diversification, and migration. These represent the various pathways people utilize in order to attain sustainable livelihoods. People may either utilize one of these strategies, or a combination of them. Regarding livelihood outcomes, five key elements are pointed out in the framework (Figure 2.1):
  • Creation of working days: the provision of gainful employment which could be in the form of income-generating activities, activities that generate consumable outputs, and employment that makes people feel recognised for engaging in a worthwhile venture  (Sen et al., 1975, p.5).
  • Poverty reduction: determining whether people are having sustainable livelihoods or not with reference to their poverty levels – could be measured qualitatively or quantitatively or a combination of both (Shaffer, 1996). The use of an international poverty line is one common quantitative way of determining poverty levels (Edusah, 2011, Scoones, 1998).
  • Well-being and capabilities: factors such as self-esteem, security, happiness, stress, exclusion, and power according to Chambers could be used to determine whether livelihood outcomes are desirable or not (Chambers, 1989). Determining livelihood outcomes by assessing well-being and capabilities has the strength of bringing to fore the true perspectives of people regarding the state of their livelihoods.
  • Livelihood adaptation, vulnerability, and resilience: livelihood outcomes are desirable when people are able to cope and adapt to shocks and stress, and vice-versa.
  • Natural resource base sustainability: this is important since many rural dwellers largely depend on natural resources (such as forests and wildlife) for a living. The ability for these natural resources to regenerate and not get depleted indicate the resources are used sustainably.
  1. Institutions and organizations: Institutions are “the social cement which links stakeholders to access to capital of different kinds to the means of exercising power and so define the gateways through which they pass on the route to positive or negative [livelihood] adaptation” (Davies, 1997, p.24). Analysing the role played by institutions is very crucial to the sustainable livelihood framework (Figure 2.1) since it connects and “bounds together” the other components of the framework viz: livelihood strategies and outcomes, and livelihood resources (Scoones, 1998, p.11). An understanding of institutions and organizations gives a clear picture of the “barriers” and “opportunities” of sustainable livelihoods, and ways in which the barriers could be overcome, and full advantage derived from opportunities (Scoones, 1998, p.12).

2.5 Impact of Protected Areas on Livelihoods in Ghana

The impacts of protected areas on livelihoods have been researched to some extent in Ghana (e.g. Amoah and Wiafe, 2012, Derkyi et al., 2013, Edusah, 2011, Opoku, 2006). A study in four forest reserves in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions of Ghana revealed that forests provide NTFPs to adjacent communities (Edusah, 2011), even though the numerous regulations governing use of forest resources mostly deny local people of various livelihood options (Derkyi et al., 2013, Amoah and Wiafe, 2012). A study assessed the social impact of the creation of the Kakum National Park in the Central region of Ghana and found out that despite the existence of strict regulations and bans to deter people from using the park, local community members continue to exploit forest resources from it (Amoah and Wiafe, 2012). One main factor accounting for this is the absence of alternative forms of livelihood (Amoah and Wiafe, 2012, Edusah, 2011, Derkyi et al., 2013). Usually, rural folks whose lives depend on the forest are left with no option but to use forest resources in conserved areas – despite strict regulations governing them (Amoah and Wiafe, 2012). Derkyi et al. (2013) in their study in a community inside a forest reserve in Ghana found out that stricter law enforcement could further restrict local inhabitants from deriving meaningful benefits from the forest reserve hence worsening their livelihood conditions (Derkyi et al., 2013). The key to overcoming these livelihood challenges could be ensuring an all-inclusive management of protected areas which considers the opinions of all stakeholders (Derkyi et al., 2013, Edusah, 2011). There is a limited geographical distribution of case studies in Ghana that assess the interplay between livelihoods in rural FFCs and management of forest resources in forest reserves. There is particularly a dearth in the Ghanaian literature regarding the complex dynamics involved in rural livelihood strategies, and the crucial role institutions and organizations play in alleviating or worsening livelihoods amid these dynamics. To address these gaps the study will analyse three rural FFCs in Ghana and some relevant stakeholders to provide a significant addition to the existing literature on rural livelihoods in FFCs in Ghana.

2.6 Effectiveness of Protected Areas

Research on the effectiveness of PAs has laid more emphasis on two aspects of effectiveness namely ecological effectivenessand management effectiveness(Eklund and Cabeza, 2016, Pressey et al., 2015). With regard to ecological effectiveness, two aspects have received much attention in the literature. One front focuses on “pressures” that PAs suffer which influence their ecological effectiveness, while another places more emphasis on “the state of biodiversity” as a measure of the ecological effectiveness of protected areas (Eklund and Cabeza, 2016, p.2). Management effectiveness has received significant attention in the literature, with many assessments of management effectiveness utilising the IUCN management effectiveness framework (Hockings et al., 2006).

2.6.1 Management Effectiveness of Protected Areas

Management of PAs refers to the nature in which people, resources, and activities aimed towards achieving the set objectives of a PA are synchronised and put into force (Hitt et al., 2011). There are four main functions of the management of protected areas: “planning, organising, leading, and evaluation” (Worboys et al., 2015, p.29). PA management is defined as “the inputs needed and actions taken to manage a protected area” (Eklund and Cabeza, 2016, p.4). These inputs include inputs for staffing, training, communication, and law enforcement etc. (Leverington et al., 2010). According to Leverington et al. (2010), many protected areas in the world lack basic resources needed for their effective management.

Management effectiveness is a broad term which represents three main aspects of PA management:

  • the design of PAs;
  • the ‘adequacy’ and ‘appropriateness’ of management processes; and
  • the attainment of PA objectives (Hockings et al., 2006, p.1).

Evaluation of management of PAs is very crucial since it can bring about improved management in the face of a changing environment, effective apportionment of scarce resources, accountable and fair PA governance, and an increased level of involvement of FFCs (Hockings et al., 2006). The framework for management effectiveness (Figure 2.2) developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission for Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) is a useful framework for assessing management effectiveness in protected areas (Hockings et al., 2000, Hockings et al., 2006). The framework comprises six key elements: context, planning, inputs, process, outputs,  and outcomes (Hockings et al., 2006, p.12).


Figure 2.2: The framework for assessing management effectiveness. Source: Adapted from Hockings et al. (2006, p.12)

  1. Context: lays emphasis on the importance (value) of the PA, threats faced by the PA, and the policy environment, and the extent of stakeholders’ involvement in management.
  2. Planning: assesses the design of protected PAs and what goes into the planning of the area.
  3. Inputs: assesses the resources needed for effective management execution. It specifically considers resource availability.
  4. Process: specifically assesses how suitable management processes are, and the extent to which accepted processes are being put into practice;
  5. Outputs: assesses the extent to which management programmes have been implemented, and the extent to which goals and objectives of the PA have been achieved.
  6. Outcomes: the focus of this element is to assess whether the attainment of management objectives has led to the attainment of the overall objective for the establishment of the PA.

This framework is useful for assessing management effectiveness in the sense that it is flexible in nature, and can be used at different scales (large scale or small scale) and contexts (can be adapted to any region or country) (Hockings et al., 2006). According to Hockings et al. (2006, p.12) assessing these six elements (Figure 2.2) provides “a relatively comprehensive picture of management effectiveness.”

2.6.2 Trade-offs in the Management of Protected areas

Various benefits are derived from PAs by different stakeholder groups – who value ecosystem services present in PAs for various reasons (Díaz et al., 2011, Howe et al., 2014). Management of protected areas usually results in trade-offs due to the existence of stakeholders with varying goals and expectations (Zhang et al., 2007). According to  Rodríguez et al. (2006, p.264), trade-offs occur when the provision of an ecosystem service diminishes or is sacrificed for another service, or “when more of a particular ecosystem service is captured by one stakeholder at the expense of others.” Howe et al. (2014) outline two main factors that may bring about trade-offs in management: when private interests are shown by one or more of the stakeholders involved in management, and when one or more of the stakeholders make use of a provisioning service.

According to Tallis et al. (2008), effective management of environmental resources could play a crucial role in improving the livelihood and well-being of people who depend on them. For ecosystem services of protected areas to provide the benefits expected to be derived by its stakeholders, however, there must be win-win outcomes – which Tallis et al. (2008) believe a good and effective management of ecosystem services could bring about. However, various studies have indicated that win-wins do not usually happen in practice, which could be attributed mainly to the presence of competing goals among stakeholders (McShane et al., 2011, Ros-Tonen et al., 2005) as well as the existence of regulations that limit the use of environmental resources by certain actors (Derkyi et al., 2014, Takeda and Røpke, 2010). Regarding the existence of regulations, Howe et al. (2014) emphasized the “importance of power in ecosystem trade-offs.” Lebel and Daniel (2009) further pointed out that “unequal power relations between stakeholders” influence trade-offs significantly, with less powerful actors usually finding themselves on the losing end of trade-offs.

Despite the difficulty in achieving win-win outcomes in environmental resources management, Howe et al. (2014) mention that certain actions and strategies could optimize trade-offs and lead to more desirable outcomes. These actions include “combining awareness of what situations may produce a trade-off with an understanding of why trade-offs result” (Howe et al., 2014, p.273). The issue of trade-offs that emerge in PA management hasn’t received much attention in the literature (Howe et al., 2014). This research, therefore, gives targeted attention to the influence trade-offs have on livelihood outcomes of forest fringe communities, and how improvements could be made in the management of forest reserves to optimize trade-offs and eventually bring about desirable outcomes.

2.6.3 Challenges Encountered in the Management of Protected Areas in Ghana

PAs in Africa are known to face enormous pressure, mainly from human activities (Ayivor et al., 2011, Giliba et al., 2011, Ofori-Kumah et al., 2013, Ngwa and Fonjong, 2002, Maina, 2012, Macharia, 2015). This is no different in the case of Ghana (Derkyi et al., 2013, Ros-Tonen et al., 2010, Ayivor et al., 2011).

Various studies conducted in Ghana have claimed that PAs are under significant levels of threat, and that management of forest reserves are seriously challenged (e.g. Ayivor et al., 2011, Derkyi, 2012, Giliba et al., 2011, Hansen and Treue, 2008, Marfo et al., 2009, Odoom, 2004, Ofori-Kumah et al., 2013). In their study at Atewa Range forest reserve in the Eastern Region of Ghana, Ayivor et al. (2011) claimed that major threats posed to forest reserves include illegal felling of trees, illegal farming, poaching/hunting, and mining. Studies conducted in other forest reserves in the country generally agree with the findings of Ayivor et al. (2011) (e.g. Derkyi, 2012, Giliba et al., 2011, Hansen and Treue, 2008, Marfo et al., 2009, Odoom, 2004, Ofori-Kumah et al., 2013). Factors such as weak forest law enforcement and  adverse economic circumstances in rural areas have been cited as major factors causing these threats (Odoom, 2004, Ayivor et al., 2011). The issue of illegal felling of trees (chainsaw logging) for instance has been a major headache for policy formulators in Ghana and has negative implications on biodiversity and livelihood sustenance (Odoom, 2004).

Other challenges plaguing the management of forest reserves in Ghana include bushfires, conflicts and weak interactions among actors involved in managing forest reserves; insufficient funds and logistics (Ofori-Kumah et al., 2013); and failure of traditional authorities to play their role in protecting forest reserves (Ayivor et al., 2011). Boon and Ahenkan (2007) reinforce the claim of  Ofori-Kumah et al. (2013) regarding forest conflicts, and state that the issue of conflicting interests among various stakeholders in forest management is one of the major environmental challenges facing the forestry sector in Ghana. Majority of these challenges are related to “human welfare” or livelihood sustenance on one side, and forest “conservation” on another, which makes management of PAs an uphill task (Leverington et al., 2010, p.46).

This research will seek to investigate the intricacies of PA challenges, particularly those that are context specific, in order to come out with workable and realistic solutions.

2.7 Conceptual Framework

Thus far, the literature review has summarized and evaluated various conceptual viewpoints regarding PAs and how livelihoods of people are influenced and shaped particularly by PA governance and management. This section presents the conceptual framework which will be utilised in the study to analyse data and draw conclusions (Figure 2.3).

FFCs and forest management authorities expect to derive various uses, services and benefits from forest reserves. Due to varying goals that prevail between actors involved, trade-offs occur, which could either lead to positive or negative outcomes. Since the forest management authorities (FC) are the institution in charge of the management of forest reserves in Ghana, the extent to which they manage forests effectively will go a long way to determine whether livelihoods of FFCs are sustained or not. In assessing management effectiveness, some elements of the management effectiveness framework (Figure 2.2) will be utilised. The outcome of forest reserve management will eventually influence the overall outcomes of livelihood (“livelihood pathways” and “livelihood outcomes”) – which could be negative or positive (Figure 2.3).

Figure 2.3: Conceptual framework. Source: Author’s Construct (2017)

2.8 Summary of Research Gaps

The interactions between stakeholders involved in forest reserves management and the resultant outcomes have received some attention in the literature. However, there exists a significant dearth, especially with regard to literature in the Ghanaian setting. The main research gaps identified in the literature review are summarized in this section.

First, trade-offs that emerge in forest reserves management has not received specific attention in the Ghanaian literature. This study will attempt to explore and investigate such issues using forest fringe community members, and the Forest Services Division (FSD) as the main actors.

Second, there is a limited geographical distribution of case studies in Ghana that critically assess the interaction between rural livelihoods in forest fringe communities and forest reserve management. Specifically, there is a dearth regarding the complex dynamics involved in rural livelihood strategies, and the crucial role played by forest management authorities in alleviating or worsening livelihoods in the midst of these dynamics.

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