15 Facts & Questions

“Atebubu and Wiase Forest Landscape Restoration project: A ‘Living Lab’ for community and ecological resilience” is a ten-year project located in the Bono East Region in central Ghana.

1. Why was Atebubu-Amantin and Sene West areas chosen as the Living Lab location?

Two of the Living Lab implementing partners have worked in this area for several years and are familiar with community challenges and opportunities for a forest landscape restoration project. These are key areas for charcoal and firewood production, and the natural forested land has been subject to heavy encroachment and illegal tree cutting for charcoal. Degradation, habitat change from dry forest to savannah woodland and agricultural clearance has also contributed to the  intensity and incidence of wildfires and encroachment on forested land.

2. What are the key ​Living Lab activities?

This Living Lab is a 10-year community-based project, which aims to foster both ecological and community resilience. It demonstrates and shares lessons on the power of biodiversity regeneration and a nature-inspired economy to catalyze local jobs, livelihoods, and economic alternatives – all co-designed with local stakeholders.

The Living Lab will primarily focus on:
Natural forest restoration: 4,500 hectares of forest restoration in degraded areas.
Agroforestry: 3,780 hectares of agroforestry and regenerative agriculture to reduce pressure on natural forests, improve land productivity and boost incomes for smallholder farmers.
There will be a total of 6 million trees planted by the end of 2025:
 - Natural forest restoration and regeneration: 5 million trees
 - Agroforestry: 1 million trees 

3. What types of trees will be planted?

We are working with local farmers & experts to decide which trees to plant in right places for right reasons. They will be a mix of trees:

  • Fruit and nut trees, such as cashew, mango and citrus
  • Quick growing trees for timber such as teak and eucalyptus
  • Natural forest restoration areas we will focus on trees native to the area and pioneer species
  • Other agroforestry trees such as Milicia excelsa, Terminalia ivorensis, T. superba, Triplochiton scleroxylon
4. When will planting begin?

In 2021, we started with pilot planting of 150,000 trees in August. The main planting started in the year 2022 and will continue for the next 3 years.

The mpilot planting tried 3 main “pioneer species” Ceiba (Ceiba Pentandra), Senya (Daniellia Oliveri) and Dawa Dawa (Parkia Biglobosa). These species were chosen because they have high levels of resilience, should establish well and because of the availability of local seed.
These pioneer species will help to develop shelter and shade, which in turn will create the right environment for natural regeneration of a wider range of species.
By the end of 2022, a total of 1,113,995 indigenous, fruit and agroforestry trees had been planted to restore more than 1,400 hectares of degraded land. This involved.

Planting of pioneer, native, indigenous and endangered tree species on over 595 ha of degraded, formerly forested land as part of natural forest restoration.

And, over 450 farming households planted a total of 222,000 agroforestry and fruit trees such as mangoes and cashew nuts covering over 820 Ha of private degraded land/plots in 13 communities around the Atebubu and Wiase areas. In each of these communities, a lead farmer was identified to help in mobilizing local farmers, ensuring that farmers’ needs and aspirations are duly considered and facilitating knowledge exchange in the Living Lab.

5. Will ​the Living Lab involve commercial monoculture plantations?

Not directly, but some of the agroforestry areas may include orchards of single species such as mango, cashew and citrus.

Though, one of the Living Lab partner Africa Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD), has commercial plantations of Eucalyptus and Acacia in the region. APSD are in the process of getting their plantations certified to Forest Stewardship Council®, an international sustainability standard for forest management.

6. What is the difference between natural forest, woodlots and agroforestry?

The difference is mainly about priorities and species choice.

  • Natural forest – priority is to restore forests and biodiversity with native tree species.
  • Agroforestry – priority is to integrate food crops and appropriate trees to boost agricultural productivity while increasing green cover and biodiversity in farm landscapes.
7. Tree planting projects in Africa have been criticized as green colonialism for ignoring the local social and ecological context. How will the Atebubu ​Living Lab foster ecological and community resilience?
  • The Living Lab is based on the foundations of local community leadership to address local community challenges through solutions co-designed with and for local communities.
  • The first step of the Living Lab was to hold a stakeholder and community meeting held in December 2020.
  • Initial discussions with Atebubu Traditional Council were held. The Council have welcomed the Living Lab and are keen to participate further.
  • Living Lab partners Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) has recently completed a baseline assessment with local communities and spoke to over 237 people.
  • Three local community-based Liaison Officers have been recruited, and a multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) established. The MSP will continue to engage local stakeholders including landowners, land managers, communities, civil society, governments, youth, women groups and the private sector to collectively design, govern and benefit from the Living Lab.

8. What are the principles followed by this Living Labs/ New Generation Plantations to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project?

The Living Lab will follow the CBA (See 12.)  Principles for Creating Regenerative Landscapes:

To accelerate land restoration, our aim is to create landscapes that are: 

  • Ecologically resilient and healthy 
  • Socially fair and inclusive 
  • Economically sustainable and equitable 
  • Beautiful and spiritually inspiring

In addition, the Living Lab will follow Plan Vivo’s standardized “Approved Approaches”. An Approved Approach is a methodology or tool that is used in the quantification or justification of climate benefits, risk, additionality or monitoring data for a Plan Vivo project or prospective Plan Vivo project.

9. How much carbon will be sequestered?

The total volume of carbon sequestered will be determined by the choices made by the local community and the multi stakeholder platform regarding tree species choice and management. Our initial nominal assessment is that within 10 years:
2,500 hectares (Ha) of Natural forest area, will sequester circa 100 t CO2 per Ha - subtotal 250,000 tonnes.
2,500 Ha of Woodlots and Agroforestry 50 tones CO2 per Ha – subtotal 125,000 tonnes. This is a conservative assessment and within 20 years we would expect this figure to double.
Total 750,000 tonnes

10. What is a Living Lab?

Living Labs is concept of the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (See 12.) Living Labs demonstrate how harmony can be achieved by empowering nature and people in a concrete territorial context, integrating traditional knowledge, capitalizing on new research and innovation, and based on public-private partnerships that place local communities at their centre.

Each Living Lab uses a landscape restoration project as the starting point to catalyze the development of circular bioeconomy value chains while restoring biodiversity and local livelihoods. They are the start of a journey towards more resilient communities and landscapes.

11. Who are the ​Living Lab partners?
  • Local communities and farmers
  • Circular Bioeconomy Alliance / European Forest Institute
  • AstraZeneca
  • Nature and Development Foundation (NDF)
  • Africa Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD)
  • New Generation Plantation Technical Assistance (NGPTA)
12. What is the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance?

The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance aims to accelerate the transition to a circular bioeconomy that is climate neutral, inclusive and prospers in harmony with nature.

The Alliance was established by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, in 2020. It provides knowledge-informed support as well as a learning and networking platform to connect the dots between investors, companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and local communities to advance the circular bioeconomy while restoring biodiversity globally.

13. What is Nature and Development Foundation?

Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) will be responsible for management and co-ordination of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform. NDF are a Ghanaian NGO with partners across West Africa. NDF have experience of working and collaborating with government, local community, private sector, industry associations and other civil society bodies to deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of people whiles ensuring conservation of natural resources.

14. What is NGPTA?

NGPTA is providing technical support and sustainable land/forests management advice, based on the accumulated experience and know-how of the long-term WWF knowledge-sharing platform on sustainable plantation management, New Generation Plantations (NGP).

 NGP has four key principles:

  • Maintain ecosystem integrity
  • Protect and enhance high conservation values
  • Be developed through effective stakeholder involvement processes. 
  • Contribute to economic growth and employment.
15. What is the African Plantations for Sustainable Development?

African Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD) is an established plantation forestry company, which has been active in the region for 10+ years. Working with local community leaders, APSD has a concession of 30,000 hectares of which approximately 9,000 ha is plantation forestry. APSD has an established nursery and is investing in timber processing.

 APSD has three main focuses:

  • Develop & expand a sustainable forest product business.
  • Ensure that the forest management meets the requirements of Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) certification.
  • Create shared value opportunities with the local community.