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Socio-economic determinants of smallholder plantation sizes in Ghana and options to encourage reforestation

Osei, Richard, Zerbe, Stefan, Beckmann, Volker, Boaitey, Aristotle
Southern forests 2019 v.81 no.1 pp. 49-56
agroforestry, conservation status, farmers, forests, gender, income, indigenous species, models, plantations, planting, questionnaires, reforestation, regression analysis, socioeconomic factors, trees, tropics, vulnerable species, Ghana
Reforestation, particularly in the tropics, is of crucial importance for the environment as well as society. However, small planting areas and low participation of smallholder farmers in tree planting programmes often obstruct realisation of set planting area targets. In this regard, we interviewed smallholder farmers undertaking indigenous species reforestation in Oda Kotoamso community within the Wassa Amenfi West District in Western Region of Ghana with a pre-tested questionnaire to identify (1) key socio-economic factors that predict the size of plantations they establish, (2) options that could encourage tree planting among smallholder farmers, and (3) tree species planted by the smallholder farmers and their conservation status according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Key socio-economic factors were predicted with multiple regression models and ANOVA. Options were ranked on a five-point Likert scale and their differences were tested with the Mann–Whitney U test. Age and income of smallholders are the significant predictors of plantation sizes but farmers’ household size and gender were not significant. Age and income accounted for 77.1% and 22.9%, respectively, of the total variation described by our model (R ² = 38.4%). In order of importance, incentives (mean = 4.35, SD = 0.48), public nurseries (mean = 4.2, SD = 0.82) and agroforestry (mean = 4.06, SD = 0.56) were the options that could encourage reforestation, though incentives and public nurseries were not significantly different (p > 0.05). Almost half (9 of 19) of the tree species planted are categorised as Vulnerable species, which highlights the contribution of smallholder farmers to recovery of threatened tree species. Our findings suggest that sustainable provision of planting materials in incentivised and youth-based tree planting programmes could increase planting hectarage and conserve threatened tree species.