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Panel 4 Paper 4.2: Resiliency of rural socio-ecological landscapes: Case study of the Black Volta and Weto Landscapes of Ghana

In response to Ghana’s obligations under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global Environmental Fund Small Grants Program (SGP) adopted a resilience approach to sustainability, focusing on how to build local capacity to deal with unexpected landscape change. This paper will: (1) share experience from Ghana in restoring landscapes for resilient livelihoods, (2) present methodologies on how rural landscapes can be managed to ensure a sustainable and resilient supply of essential ecosystem services, and (3) discuss the challenges that are associated with these approaches. The paper will also discuss how Ghana’s Weto and Black Volta socio-ecological production landscapes enhanced food security as a strategy, how good practices for restoring and enhancing the landscape have been demonstrated, and how cultural revival and revitalization of traditions has helped shape the landscape. Recognizing the role that local people play as external drivers of ecosystem dynamics, this approach explored ways that rural communities can interact sustainably with ecosystems while maintaining their spiritual, cultural and economic connections to the landscapes they inhabit. Using seven principles of resilience, SGP and its partners undertook a wide range of project interventions in over one-hundred rural communities aimed at creating resilience practices to strengthen the well-being of these communities and support key ecosystem functions and biodiversity conservation within a 250,000 ha landscape. The interventions had many different aims, among them to: maintain, revitalize and rebuild socio-ecological production landscapes promote food security, encourage learning systems, promote broader participation and adoption, and promote polycentric governance systems. The case study also identifies paradigm shifts in landscape management based on building a community’s capacity to ensure resilience while harnessing ecosystem services through innovation, adaptation, and governance.