Questioning the link between tenure security and sustainable land management in cocoa landscapes in Ghana

Asaaga, Festus A. ORCID:; Hirons, Mark A.; Malhi, Yadvinder. 2020 Questioning the link between tenure security and sustainable land management in cocoa landscapes in Ghana. World Development, 130, 104913. 14, pp.

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Sustainable land management (SLM) is increasingly recognized as viable pathway to accelerate poverty reduction and achieving sustainable development, particularly in the global South. Despite efforts to promote SLM practices, their adoption has been extremely limited with debates revolving around the role of land tenure in farmer’s decision-making. Drawing on a tripartite conception of tenure security, we distinguish between three categories of tenure security: 1) legal security; 2) contextual/ defacto security, and 3) perceived tenure security to examine factors affecting smallholders’ investment in SLM in Ghana. The paper draws on 380 surveys covering 796 plots and a series of key informant interview to investigate how land tenure shapes farmers’ investment decisions regarding SLM adoption at the plot level. The findings of the study demonstrate that different types of SLM investments (including soil improvements, on-farm tree planting and conservation of naturally-occurring tree species) were undertaken by farmers, even those who perceived their tenure rights as insecure. However, the results demonstrate that different components of tenure security influence adoption of SLM practices in ways which are not consistent across the different components of tenure security or specific SLM practices. Furthermore, the relationship between tenure security and SLM investments is also mediated by other important non-tenurial factors (including access to credit, modernised agricultural inputs and targeted extension service support). The findings suggest that land tenure policies will deliver a range of outcomes (both positive and negative) pertaining to land conservation investments. This means thinking more deeply about priorities with respect to SLM interventions, particularly in emerging contexts like Ghana and SSA generally. Overall, these findings are important for redesigning context- specific and appropriate land-use policy interventions that address barriers to SLM adoption.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0305-750X
Additional Keywords: sustainable land management (SLM), customary land tenure, tenure security, adoption, Ghana, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
NORA Subject Terms: General
Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 24 Feb 2020 16:22 +0 (UTC)

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