Rahinatu Sidiki Alare

Thesis title:

Contested fire management: Understanding the trade-offs between traditional and government approaches to fire management and their implications for conflict reduction in the savanna woodlands of northern Ghana

Abstract:

Despite the scientific evidence as well as the nuanced cultural, spiritual, ecological and economic importance of fires for local communities in northern Ghana, government policies still embrace the simplistic narrative that fire constitutes a disturbance to savanna ecosystems. The antifire policies and programmes instituted by the Government of Ghana and Non-government Organisations to promote conservation in savanna areas have induced a growing sense of injustice and resentment among those whose livelihoods depend on these fires. Therefore, a scientific understanding of the drivers of fires and how fire management policies impact wider efforts to mitigate conflict between different resource user groups in these areas, is necessary for developing more equitable approaches. Hence, the main objective of this study is to understand the complex trade-offs of shifting fire regimes and policies in the savanna woodlands of northern Ghana and whether these policies result in social inequities. To achieve this, the study will adopt a political ecology approach to analyse the issue of power and decision in resource access. The study will employ mixed methods, using remote sensing techniques and local ecological knowledge to analyse drivers and trends in patches of burnt areas, and a combination of key informant interviews, participatory research methods and stakeholder workshops to explore institutional arrangements necessary for effective fire management at national and local levels.

First supervisor:

Kate Schreckenberg

Pathway:

9- Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health

Cohort:

2021-22