Assessing Social Equity in Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) Interventions: Findings from Ghana

  1. Matt Kandel
  1. B44/R2015, School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.
  1. m.kandel{at}
  1. Genevieve Agaba
  1. School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.
  1. Rahinatu S. Alare
  1. Department of Environmental Science, C.K. Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Navrongo, Ghana.
  1. Thomas Addoah
  1. SNV, Netherlands Development Organisation, Accra, Ghana.
  1. Kate Schreckenberg
  1. Geography Department, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


Achieving social equity in land and forest restoration is a key objective of major international frameworks and commitments, including the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Meeting this objective requires consideration of key governance questions such as who makes decisions about what is restored, where, and how? And how do factors specific to local contexts influence which decisions are made, and, in turn, the distribution of benefits? Despite the demonstrated importance of social equity on project outcomes in many natural resource-based fields, there have to date been no assessments of social equity of farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR), an approach used mainly for restoring degraded agricultural land. Drawing on findings from community-based fieldwork in 2019–2020 in northeastern Ghana, this paper aims to fill this void. We address the following question: How do historical, socio-ecological, and political processes condition prospects for social equity in FMNR interventions? Key findings were: 1) Preexisting hierarchies in authority, control, and access over land and trees shaped decision-making in project design and the potential distribution of benefits from FMNR 2) FMNR, when implemented on farmland, generally aligned with local agroecological practices; but, when implemented to restore communal lands, it created tensions with local perceptions of equity as well as traditional land and natural resource management practices, and 3) The FMNR project reflected the continuing salience of dominant political and environmental discourses, which carry implications for restoring landscapes with FMNR. To support practitioners, we provide several recommendations for strengthening social equity of FMNR project designs.


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