Farmers’ perspectives and context are key for the success and sustainability of farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) in northeastern Ghana

Matt Kandel, Daniela Anghileri*, Rahinatu S. Alare, Peter Lovett, Genevieve Agaba, Thomas Addoah, Kate Schreckenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Restoring degraded landscapes is critical for achieving global environmental and
development goals, and agroforestry is increasingly promoted as a nature-based
solution to land degradation. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is an
agroforestry-based approach for restoring degraded agricultural land and it has been
widely implemented in African drylands. However, a recent systematic review found
significant gaps in the evidence base for FMNR, including that its upscaling has been
based on inadequate understandings of local contexts. Furthermore, studies reporting
on farmer adoption of FMNR have mainly relied on quantitative data from household
surveys, resulting in limited understandings of what motivates farmers who practice
FMNR. This paper draws on the results of a qualitative study in northeastern Ghana to
addresses two questions: 1) How and why do farmers practice FMNR? And 2) How
does context influence farmers’ rationales for practicing FMNR? We found that farmers
grounded their perspectives on the utility of FMNR in nuanced understandings of the
local farming and tenure systems. The results of our study also demonstrate how
farmers’ decision-making was situated within socially and agroecologically
differentiated contexts, which were conditioned by long-term, multi-faceted change in
the region. We conclude that in spite of the rush to scale up FMNR, more attention
should be directed to assessing where, when, and for whom FMNR might be
appropriate. Such assessments should be grounded in resource managers’
preferences, local agricultural and tenure systems, and the requisite biophysical
conditions for FMNR. To support these efforts, we propose an FMNR suitability
assessment framework, based on our findings and those from related studies. As
landscape restoration is scaled up globally, initiatives should be informed by evidence
demonstrating how and why resource managers might practice a restoration activity as
well as how context influences their choices.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Jun 2022


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