Course:CONS200/2021/Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) in Ghana: Opportunities and downsides

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Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) are geographically defined areas of a group of communities that have agreed to work together for the sustainable use of shared natural resources.[1] Community-based natural resource management like CREMAs work as a participatory model which provides the opportunity for conservation to produce tangible benefits for rural development through actual involvement of the local people and stakeholders to govern and maintain the natural resources.[2] Since this paradigm is a community based organization built on existing community decision making structures, it enables the community to perform collective decision making and work together towards enforcing them for the common, in other words shared resources.[1] CREMAs arose as a response to the lack of consideration of the local benefits of communities surrounding Protected Areas (PA), which overlooks the support of local people in the level of success of the intentions of the PA: to conserve and maintain natural ecosystems.[3] [4] As a response to such lack points of PAs, community based natural resource governance (CBNRG) such as CREMAs have become increasingly important as a means to achieve both conservation and sustainable livelihood goals worldwide.[4]

About Ghana


Location of Ghana

Ghana is a country located in western Africa, on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. The current population of Ghana is 32,007,988 based on projections of the latest United Nations data. The country is currently growing at a rate of 2.15% per year, which has slowly decreased from 2.95% in 1985.[5] Ghana is bordered to the northwest and north by Burkina Faso, west by Costa De Marfil, easy by Togo, and to the south by the Atlantic Ocean.[6] The annual mean temperature is from 78 to 84 °F (26 to 29 °C) and the daily range only some some 10 to 15 °F (6 to 8 °C) along the coast and some 13 to 30 °F (7 to 17 °C) in the north.[6] The average relative humidities range from nearly 100% in the south to 65% in the north.[6] The country has three vegetation types from south to north according to the different levels of precipitation. These three types are the costal savanna zone that consists of a mixture of scrub and tall grass along with some thicket clumps (e.g. Elaeophorbia and fire-resistant species such as the baobab), the northern savanna zone which is mostly covered by tall Guinea grass together with some scattering of low trees, and the forest zone which consists of evergreen and tropical semi-deciduous forest.[6]


The economy of Ghana is a mixture of private and public enterprise; about three-fifths of the GDP is derived from the services sector, agriculture contributes almost one-fifth, and industry about one-fourth.[6] The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are responsible for more than half of the population's employment.[6] Cacao is cultivated on more than one-half of Ghana's arable land and is a significant source of the country's export revenue. Ghana is usually among the wold's leading producers of cocoa and is known for the high-grade quality of it's sun-dried cocoa, and this has lead the farmer's share of the world market price to be 60%.[6] Timber has also been an important source of foreign exchange. However, the significance of timber exports decreased due to government restrictions on cutting and exporting round logs.[6] The soil and climate of Ghana favors a wide range of crops, and the government has strongly supported diversification of food production to reduce reliance on a few crops and to cut the need for imported foodstuff. This has resulted in Ghana to export a variety of good to the world such as sugar, coffee, palm oil, palm kernels, copra, and various fruits and vegetables along with cocoa beans and timber.[6]

Sustainability Goals

Considering the country's high economic dependance on wildlife and forest, the government of Ghana has set up multiple policies and restrictions to conserve and maintain their ecosystem at an adequate level.[7]

CREMAs in Ghana

Evolution of CREMAs

Forest landscapes contain the most important natural resources, and those resources from the forest and wildlife are crucial in supporting, maintaining and replenishing the global ecosystems.[7] However, despite the significance of the forest to human beings, there has been lack of appreciation, which in turn lead to indiscreet and excessive use of the resources it offers. An average of 13 million hectares of the global forest cover is depleted annually, and Africa alone accounts for about 3.4 million hectares.[7] This is mainly due to population increase and more demand for natural resources due to it. In specific in Ghana, the dense forest zone which formerly covered an area of about 30,000 square miles (78,000 square km), but has been reduced it to less than 8,000 square miles (21,000 square km), including about 6,000 square miles (15,500 square km) of reserved forest, due to farming activities and timber exploitation.[6] In Ghana, more than 70% of the population depend on forest and wildlife resources for their livelihood, and the forest sector has always accounted for about 6% of Ghana's total domestic production (GDP).[7] The over-exploitation of these resources (animals and plants) is causing considerable depletion. Between 2000 and 2010, the country's forest cover decreased by about 1.6 million hectares.[7] Recognizing the threat of climate change and the increasing cost of natural resource degradation, the government of Ghana has adopted an integrated approach to sustainable natural resource management. Like many countries in the world, Ghana has a set of policies and regulations on the ownership, acquisition, consumption and management of natural resources. Most importantly, the constitution of Ghana clearly stipulates that the ownership and control of natural resources are entrusted by the president to the Ghanaian people. In order to prevent over exploitation and illegal logging of forest and wildlife resources, the state has formulated some policies and legislation to ensure the sustainable utilization and protection of these resources. These policy and legislative frameworks can be said to be country centred and can not meet the needs of local people in the sustainable management of forest and wildlife resources. An integrated approach centered on the Forest and Wildlife Policy of the country and the Ghana Forest Investment Programme (GFIP) aims to address the underlying drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.These fundamental factors include a lack of sense of ownership and inclusiveness in the management of national forest resources. Usually, decisions on the management and use of natural resources are made from top to down, which brings a sense of imposition to forest users. In order to solve this problem, the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources is implementing the strategic action of the Forest and Wildlife Policy, which advocates cooperative resource management. This is achieved through a project of the Ghana Forest Investment Programme "Enhancing Natural Forests and Agroforestry Landscapes" (ENFALP). Under the project, the Government of Ghana is piloting the concept of Ghana is piloting the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) as a strategy to delegate the management of natural resources to community groups with common objectives. The Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) model was adopted in Ghana in the 1990s to help conserve and increase the forest area of Ghana.[7]


The Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) concept was developed by the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana to promote collaborative and participatory wildlife management in the country. This concept mainly involves a group of communities agreeing on the management system of the common area. It is a community-based organization with administrative structure, constitution and relevant articles of association to guide and regulate the natural resource governance and management activities of each constituent community. Local communities employed several strategies including the formation of community resource management committees, enactment of bye-laws and fines regarding the management and extraction of the CREMA resources.[7] CREMAs are generally seen as a mechanism by which local people can more transparently and freely participate in decision-making processes related to resource management. [8] Relevant studies have argued that proper governance of natural resources must integrate and empower the local people to manage their natural resources.[3] Communities and land owners obtain much more rights to access and control the sustainable use of their natural resources which otherwise is the prerogative of government. To ensure inclusion and the respect of rights, one of the key approaches to the establishment of the CREMAs was wider consultation and consensus building. Also paramount in the establishment process was the engagement of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to facilitate the process. These CBOs had extensive knowledge about the landscape and were very versed in community entry and rural appraisal. With the overall CREMA establishment expertise from the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission and the capacity of the CBOs, the processes leading to the establishment of the GFIP CREMAs were lively and engendered a lot of support from the targeted groups.

Usually the CREMAs link a number of Protected Areas and Forest Reserves and create an ecological corridor for both fora and fauna. Prevent poaching and other resource destruction.

In addition, the crema mechanism creates incentives for farmers by allowing farmers to benefit from the use of natural resources, thereby encouraging them to manage these resources sustainably. The Nadowli-Kaleo District holds a typical rural economy dominated by the agricultural sector (85 percent).[7] Thus, the inhabitants of the CREMA communities are peasant farmers who focus on the cultivation of food crops like maize, millet, groundnuts, soya beans, sorghum and rice. However, with the inception of the CREMA, some of the farmers have resorted to incorporating tree crops such as mango and cashew on their smallholder farms. Besides, the inhabitants domesticate livestock like goats, sheep, pigs, and fowls. Additionally, the local craft industry has been vibrant. The men engage in blacksmithing, smock/cloth weaving, and wood carving, while the women engage in basketry, pito brewing, pottery, and shea butter extraction.[7] Helping to develop green businesses, such as beekeeping and eco-tourism activities, aim to generate additional income for the community and can also divert people’s attention from practices that damage the environment.

Other benefits of CREMAs include improved livelihoods and human wellbeing. It also ensures that habitats are secured, and endangered species are protected. It further strengthens accountability and democratization at the community level, and promotes diversification of income generation which strengthens local economies.

Advantages of CREMAs

Greatest successes of CREMAs[1]

  • Improved conservation awareness;
  • Increased collective community action and unity; the savanna regions in particular;
  • Ecologically sensitive areas being well protected;
  • Gradual return of native wildlife;
  • Livelihood improvements through beekeeping, and integration of trees on food crop and cocoa farms, and degraded areas. (e.g., about 469 farmers in six CREMAs around the Ankasa Conservation Area planted about 720 hectares with indigenous trees within the cocoa landscape)

Furthermore, CREMAs occur on the objective of environmental conservation and are in line with reducing poverty among the local people (Duguma et al., 2018). The CREMA is therefore considered as a developmental tool to the local communities (Gilli et al., 2020).[7] Additionally, wildlife such as the hippopotamus, crocodiles, and monkeys found in the CREMA received constant visitation by both local and international tourists. This corroborates the findings of related studies citing CREMAs and protected areas as significant tourist sites[7].

Therefore, the CREMA members and many local inhabitants receiving the benefits of the CREMAs in many folds, which let more communities enjoy CREMAS.

Potential positive impacts of CREMAs

Reasons and possible benefits as cited by residents for establishing and/or supporting CREMAs [9]

  • Children and grandchildren will be able to experience wildlife
  • Improving the Possibilities for tourism in CREMA areas (However, none of these respondents identified tourism as the primary objective for the CREMA.)
  • Reinforcing the traditional taboo on bushbuck (CREMA may assist to keep this tradition)
  • These residents are able to continue seeing wildlife.
  • Also, people can maintain future possibilities for accessing bushmeat
  • To protect the sacred grove and conserve it very well.

Challenges and downsides of CREMAs

The CREMA was conceived in 2000, no evaluation has been undertaken. Therefore, it is unknown whether the CREMAs are successful in creating the conducive environment for wildlife to thrive outside PAs and whether they have addressed the needs of the local people to allow for sustained development and conservation.

Based on this case, Godfrey and several other researchers have down a series of research. Some of the main findings are listed below:

Results of post-CREMA

1. The number of animals is declining

“The average species encounter rate during the 2008 baseline study was 10.2/km but this had decreased to 3.7/km in 2016. There was a significant difference in the number of animals encountered between 2008 and 2016”[2]

2. The conversion from forest to agriculture

For instance, in the Ghana Nungua-Cocotown, forest availability reduced from 18% in 2008 to 12.5% in 2016, while cocoa farm increased from 50.5% in 2008 to 53.75% in 2016[2]

9 reasons for loss of interest in the CREMA program (Downsides)[2]

  1. Expectations had not been met. (i.e., the conservation end goals like conserving animals' biomass are actually not achieved)
  2. The residents and local community did not understand the CREMA concept very well.
  3. Initial beneficial opportunities were not sustainable.
  4. They were frustrated by the poaching and encroachment in the CREMA.
  5. Volunteers to the CREMA program thought they had sacrificed for nothing.
  6. Initial benefits favored the elite in the community.
  7. Many promises remained unfulfilled.
  8. Poor supervision of the CREMA program.
  9. The program was initially over-reliant on the CREMA proponents than the community members who are the main beneficiaries.

These facts explain why later the community members’ interest waned and the participation of the majority in CREMA activities also waned.

The gap between desired and perceived outcomes

The respondents from 29 communities in Avu Lagoon CREMA reported abouyt the desired and perceived outcome of the implementation of CREMA as followed: [4]

  • Desired outcomes: respondents from the five CREMAs rate increased conservation awareness (mean ¼ 4.54) as the first most desired outcome, followed by improved tourism (4.51) and increased employment (4.51) as the second most desired outcomes, and increased income (4.47) as the fourth most important.
  • Perceived outcomes: respondents rated increased conservation awareness, reduced bush fires, and ecologically sensitive areas being protected and well managed as the highest.
  • Results: Importance–performance analysis showed that for all the 29 outcomes, importance (expectation) exceeded performance (actual outcomes), indicating a need to improve on performance, but perhaps also to create more realistic expectations.

Future improvements

-The communities’ understanding of the CREMA program would be the first step towards a successful implementation of the program. (The communities mistrust the CREMA program because the program doesn’t complete what they promised)[2]

-Also, the interventions from NGOs to reinvigorate the Ankasa Conservation Area (ACA) CREMA communities with support by providing sources of subsistence livelihoods while the ACA and surrounding CREMAs are conserved.[2]

-The use of fines and other forms of punishment to deter community members from illegally harvesting the CREMA resources appears to be working [7]

-In addition, variability in desired outcomes can be attributed to many factors, including the message and communication strategies used to obtain engagement by the communities, and the dynamic social, economic, cultural, and ecological contexts of the communities. A combination of these factors interacts to influence the value orientation of the people regarding the most desired outcomes.[4]


Implementation CREMAs in Ghana has achieved the two trends in efforts to deliver linked social and ecological protected area outcomes: the development of governance models that devolve decision-making authority and responsibility to the local level, and linking the separate protected areas together into a larger governance landscapes.[8] CREMAs are generally seen as a mechanism by which local people feel they can more transparently and freely participate in decision-making process.[8] Although it was anticipated to bring positive effects to the communities that implemented CREMAs, there has been some downsides such as decrease in interest in the whole program due to discrepancies of the desired and perceived outcomes.[4] Another accountable factor is the lack of understanding on the governance and management of the CREMA among the local people, which caused confusion; the initial benefits only favored the elites of the community; and although years has past, many promises that the CREMA proposed at the start remained unfulfilled.[2] However, CREMAs could possibly be implemented and used more efficiently through increasing the understanding of the whole system on the whole community level and sufficient interventions from NGOs to support Ghana. The complexities and uncertainties in collaborative natural resources conservation requires leadership that would be able to deal with the challenges.[10] In other words, a leader who can take charge of the governance and management would lead the community in the right direction. Leaders who have personal experiences in conservation or governance and expected personal benefits would engage state agencies and other external partners for technical and financial assistance in facilitating the establishment of CREMA.[10] With improvement on how the CREMA is managed among the participating societies can make the process more smooth and successful, eventually obtaining the goal of conservation and maintaining the ecosystem.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Upscaling Community Resource Management Areas as a Delivery Mechanism for REDD+ Implementation in Ghana". IUCN. August 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Bempah, Godfred; Dakwa, Kwaku; Monney, Kweku (2019). "Evaluation of the community resources management area (CREMA) programme around Ankasa conservation area, Ghana". Cogent Environmental Science. 5 (1).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Agyare, Andrew; Murray, Grant; Dearden, Philip; Rollins, Richard (2015). 015.1042127 "Conservation in context: Variability in desired and perceived outcomes of community based natural resources governance in ghana" Check |url= value (help). Society & Natural Resources. 28 (9): 975–994. doi:10.1080/08941920.2015.1042127.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Agyare, Andrew; Murray, Grant; Dearden, Philip; Rollins, Rick (2015). "Understanding inter-community performance assessments in community-based resource management at Avu Lagoon, Ghana". Environment, Development and Sustainability. 17 (6): 1493–1508.
  5. "Ghana Population 2021". World Population Review. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Davies, Oliver; Fage, John D.; Boateng, Ernest Amano; Maier, Donna J. (September 30, 2021). "Ghana". Britannica.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Baddianaah, Issah; Baaweh, Louis (October 2021). "The prospects of community-based natural resource management in Ghana: A case study of Zukpiri community resource management area". Heliyon. 7 (10).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Murray, Grant; Agyare, Andrew; Dearden, Philip (2019). "Devolution, coordination, and community- based natural resource management in Ghana's community resource management areas". African Geographical Review. 38 (4): 296–309.
  9. Robinson, Lance; Sasu, Kwame (2013). "The Role of Values in a Community-Based Conservation Initiative in Northern Ghana". Environmental Values. 22 (5): 647–664.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Owusu-Ansah, Nana (2020). "Leading Sustainability: Understanding Leadership Emergence in Community Resources Management Areas in Ghana". Qualitative Report. 25 (7): 1766–1779.
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