Contextualizing local landscape initiatives in global change: a scenario study for the high forest zone, Ghana

Sarah Wolff, Johan Meijer, Catharina J.E. Schulp*, Peter H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Integrated landscape management (ILM) has received increased interest to reconcile multiple conflicting demands on a landscape scale. ILM aims at addressing major interconnected global challenges, such as poverty, food security, deforestation, and climate change. A principal element of ILM is the consideration of multiple scales, harmonizing local-level needs and ambitions with those that derive from outside the landscape. ILM initiatives are most often initiated by local actors focusing on local priorities, thereby insufficiently realizing that the landscape is embedded in a wider macroeconomic and societal context. We contextualize a landscape initiative located in the high forest zone of southern Ghana, focusing on global socioeconomic and political developments that are expected to have an influence on the region. We built two “sustainability” scenarios for the period between 2015 and 2030, reflecting the demands and ambitions of local stakeholders (bottom-up) and of global environmental policy (top-down) for the region. We find that global climate and cocoa production priorities could induce synergies between food production, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation at the scale of the case study region but could come at the cost of mixed forest systems that play an important role in livelihoods on the landscape scale. Land change scenarios can play a critical role in assessing and visualizing such interactions and provide a platform for discussion and negotiation on how to integrate different objectives in the design of landscape initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number4
Early online date22 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Cross-scale interactions
  • Integrated landscape initiatives
  • Land systems
  • Land use competition
  • Scenarios
  • West Africa


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