Shea butter workers - A Rocha Ghana

Greening businesses in Ghana

In Ghana, as in many places around the world, consumers are demanding greener, cleaner products and services, even if it means paying more. That’s why A Rocha Ghana, working in collaboration with IUCN Ghana, is engaging with companies across the country to help them respond.

Businesses in Environmental Stewardship Network (BESNet) provides a platform for businesses across Ghana to contribute to environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation. Through training workshops and webinars, companies are being equipped and informed on how best they can value nature through their practices and decision-making processes.

Currently, the network includes close to 30 companies: from multinationals like Guinness Ghana, to small-scale businesses like Werlan Farm.

‘BESNet introduced us to the need to value natural capital in our business,’ says Ruth Kaweh Allan, the owner of Werlan Farm. ‘Through it we learned that protecting the land, the insects, the trees, and all living organisms on it would contribute to sustainability. We intensified our organic farming practices. Instead of pesticides we are using homemade concoctions with neem oil, pepper, onion and some spices to control pests and diseases. We also use farmyard manure to provide nutrition across the farm.’

The Green Corporate Star Award offers special recognition to businesses that demonstrate a particular commitment to environmental sustainability through their operations or by supporting environmental projects.

In time, the BESNet team hopes to develop more resources and tools that businesses can use to ensure their practices are environmentally friendly, as well as support them to develop environmental sustainability policies.

Through BESNet, A Rocha Ghana is demonstrating that it is possible to do business and protect the environment.


A global conservation gathering

Every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together thousands of leaders and decision-makers for the largest global gathering in the conservation movement.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s gathering in Marseille was smaller than usual, but A Rocha International and A Rocha Ghana were both able to attend and for the first time, participated in the Members Assembly. Decisions made here can inform international climate and biodiversity policies, so our presence demonstrated that a Christian organization is able to advocate for conservation across a wide variety of topics and that A Rocha is clearly respected for its solid scientific work.

The exhibition area, which functions like a trade fair for the conservation movement, welcomed 25,000 visitors and A Rocha France joined the A Rocha delegation to present Eglise Verte, a programme supporting French churches to go green. There were many significant conversations held at our stand with people from around the world and a generally positive response from those finding a Christian organization in the mix.

One particular highlight was the celebration of Prof Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, the Board Chair of A Rocha Ghana and trustee of A Rocha International. In recognition of his enormous contribution to biodiversity conservation in Ghana and around the world, he was bestowed the IUCN’s highest honour, the John C. Phillips Memorial Medal, joining the ranks of distinguished conservationists such as Sir David Attenborough, Mrs Indira Ghandi and Professor E.O. Wilson.

Photo: Alfred Oteng-Yeboah receiving the John C. Phillips Memorial Medal. Photo by IISD/ENB


Mapping the world’s coral reefs

Understanding where coral reefs are and monitoring their changes is an important part of conserving these special marine habitats. Although they occupy just a small proportion of the world’s oceans, they harbour an enormous diversity of marine life. They also support the livelihoods of fishing communities and protect coastlines from the damaging effects of climate change.

On the doorstep of A Rocha Kenya’s field study centre, Mwamba, lies Watamu Marine National Park. Established in 1968, it is one of Kenya’s oldest marine parks. Over a period of three months, A Rocha Kenya’s marine team checked coral reefs in the park assigned to them by the the Allen Coral Atlas project and then used their SCUBA gear and research boat ‘Tewa’ to document specific details, such as percentage coral cover. Their data contributed to the development of a global map of coral reefs.

In September, maps of the world’s tropical, shallow coral reefs were completed, marking a major milestone for the Atlas. Thanks to this global collaboration of more than 450 teams who led expeditions and contributed data, we have information about this marine ecosystem in unprecedented detail, which are downloadable and accessible to all. Now organizations like A Rocha Kenya have a new tool to guide their conservation efforts.



A new member of the family in Sweden

We are delighted to welcome our Friends of A Rocha group in Sweden as an A Rocha Associated Project. Kristna för naturvård i Sverige (KriNa for short, or in English: Christians for Nature Conservation in Sweden) is helping individuals, groups and churches in Sweden to care more for creation and protect places for biodiversity, especially locally. Their Hyllie Park Gardens Project is a joint venture with the local church and adult education college and focuses on environmental education and the creation of a meadow, wildlife habitats and nature trail that will promote biodiversity onsite.

Through practical workshops and seminars, people are learning how to make bird houses and insect hotels, as well as finding out about environmental issues such as plastic pollution and how to live more sustainably. Local children and adults are enjoying trips to nature parks and church study groups are learning what it means to be an eco-church.

In time, KriNa hopes to improve awareness of and care for nature among the children and students at its partner schools and to increase their reach beyond Hyllie Park – positively impacting biodiversity and engaging with different churches within Sweden.

Welcome to the A Rocha worldwide family, Kristna för naturvård i Sverige!

Photo by Arne Mörnerud


New species to science discovered in Atewa

The Atewa Forest campaign was boosted last month by the publication of a formal description of a new species of frog, known only from Atewa. Discovered in the forest in 2006, for some time it was believed to be the Togo Slippery Frog Conraua derooi. However, subsequent studies have concluded that it is a species in its own right. It has been given the English name Atewa Slippery Frog and the scientific name Conraua sagyimase, which honours the local Sagyimase community that has helped its conservation. The Akan common name for the new species is kwaeɛ mu nsutene apɔnkyerɛne, meaning the ‘frog of the forest streams’.

One of its distinguishing features is its loud and distinctive call. A Rocha International is working with A Rocha Ghana and the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana to survey Atewa’s streams for the frog, using passive sound recorders to record their nocturnal calls. Read A Rocha Ghana’s press release and the academic paper published in Zootaxa.

[Photo: Atewa Slippery Frog Conraua sagyimase by Dr Caleb Ofori Boateng]

Securing a future for Dakatcha

Dakatcha Woodland, on the coast of Kenya, is home to a number of globally threatened species, including Africa’s smallest owl, the Sokoke Scops Owl. Yet this woodland is being destroyed at an alarming rate due to rampant charcoal burning and the uncontrolled expansion of pineapple plantations. Now with COVID-19 hitting the local economy hard and people losing their jobs, the pace of forest destruction has picked up, making the situation even more urgent.

With help from others, A Rocha Kenya has been buying blocks of forest from willing sellers and creating a nature reserve to conserve this unique landscape and safeguard its precious inhabitants. But the recent initiation of land adjudication by the government has led to intensified demand and a rapid escalation of land prices.

Already A Rocha Kenya has acquired 1,517 acres of the planned 10,500–acre A Rocha Dakatcha Nature Reserve, but there is an urgent need to secure 500 acres immediately before they are bought to be burnt for charcoal or ploughed for marginal agriculture.

Throughout the process and as part of A Rocha Kenya’s community conservation approach, the team are involving people adjacent to the reserve in the sustainable management of their land, teaching in schools and churches and introducing restorative farming and income-generating activities such as honey production.

Read more about Dakatcha and how you can help.