Meet the conservationist: Daryl Bosu protects nature in Ghana

Nature in Ghana, West-Africa, is under immense pressure. The demand for natural resources is rising, and recent government policies have meant that even protected areas are no longer safe from mining practices: in fact, Ghana experienced the highest proportion of loss of primary forest of any tropical country in 2022. Daryl Bosu is working hard to protect these areas and save what nature Ghana has left. As a part of nature organisation A Rocha Ghana, Daryl has worked together with local communities to support them in defending their rights and promote the importance of preserving nature for close to 20 years.

Header photo: Daryl Bosu © A Rocha Ghana

Daryl originally started out in the field of natural resource management. It wasn’t until his third year of university that he began to focus on wildlife management. He did not make this choice out of specific interest in this field; according to Daryl, this was the most difficult course he could choose, and he merely wanted to challenge himself. But gradually his passion for nature conservation grew, leading him to join A Rocha Ghana in 2005.

Involving local communities

While working in nature conservation, Daryl started to realize that conservation can only be successful if conservationists work together with communities. Generating interest and involving communities can be difficult, since it is not always clear how nature conservation can go hand in hand with local livelihoods. ‘Until we can appreciate these livelihoods, we will always struggle to have conservation at the center of society,’ Daryl says.  ‘How do we make conservation relevant to communities? How do we balance different interests from civil society, from politics and from an economic perspective? The ecology is relevant, of course, but it must be relevant to our lives as well. The focus can’t be on just the species.’

Challenges in conservation in Ghana

Being a native of Ghana, Daryl has witnessed the loss of nature first-hand. ‘I remember growing up, even when going to get water in the river, I could see monkeys in the trees, different animals crossing the road. But now, this has become very rare. Even insects are rarer. You have to drive outside of the city before you will see insects hitting your windscreen. And that’s not just my observation; this is also reflected in data.’

The pressure to extract resources is growing, which means that even protected areas in Ghana are increasingly coming under stress. And although there are many laws prohibiting mining in conservation areas, the government often gives in to this pressure. This is disastrous for the many unique species that Ghana boasts, for instance in the Atewa forest. Located northeast of the capital Accra, this forest is home to many endemic and often threatened species and is considered a Key Biodiversity Area of not only national, but also global importance. Moreover, the forest provides water to over five million inhabitants, especially in the capital Accra, and is vital for agriculture in the region.

Building awareness

Even though mining practices directly impact local communities, politicians often neglect to involve, consult and engage those impacted. Daryl believes that awareness plays a big role in solving this issue. ‘Without people even knowing, the nature around them is being commodified. It is being put into the hands of corporate power. We are slowly losing our nature without even realizing it. That’s why awareness is so important in halting the immense loss of nature Ghana is currently seeing.’

The Atewa forest in Ghana, that boasts many endemic species.

Even though there are many laws in place regulating the pressure resulting from the extraction of natural resources, people and business often don’t abide by them. And since citizens don’t know about these laws, they cannot call those who break them to accountability. An additional challenge are government procedures that discourage citizen protest. Just last year, the government quietly passed a bill that removes previously installed restrictions around mining. It took 5 months before the general public became aware of this, which has slowed down responses significantly. Without the effort of organisations like A Rocha Ghana, local communities would not have been made aware of these actions.

‘We have gotten so used to linear consumption. But there are alternatives: we should promote green development and a circular economy that embraces true pricing and where recycling is the norm.’

Daryl Bosu, A Rocha Ghana

Alternative ways of living

In order to change harmful activities and preserve nature in Ghana, people have to know there are alternatives to their current way of living. ‘We have gotten so used to linear consumption. But there are alternatives: we should promote green development and a circular economy that embraces true pricing and where recycling is the norm. It’s a complex issue because here in Ghana, many people struggle to meet their daily needs, so it’s more difficult to pay attention to anything else. But if we don’t solve these bigger issues, they become a vicious cycle which traps everyone in it.’ Through awareness building and by working together with communities, government agencies and private sector organisations, A Rocha Ghana helps communities to find solutions that address the destruction of nature and builds capacity to adapt to changing environments and impacts of climate change.

Working with IUCN NL

IUCN NL has been a partner of A Rocha Ghana for 18 years (since 2005). ‘Working together has allowed A Rocha Ghana the flexibility and room to amplify our local context and has given us the opportunity to strategise,’ Daryl says. ‘This long-term partnership has given us a lot of leverage in the landscape of nature conservation. Compared to other organisations, our approach is quite comprehensive in its landscape approach, even inspiring other organisations. Sometimes NGO’s even come to us to learn from our approach, even though we are not that big.’


IUCN NL and A Rocha Ghana currently work together on the projects Forests for a Just Future, MoMo4Climate, Strengthen the Roots and Bottom Line!.

Bottom Line! works on making the energy transition a just transition with the lowest possible impact on nature and people. This includes creating stricter mining laws and regulations and making the value chain more transparent. In Ghana, the focus lies specifically on the aforementioned Atewa forest, an area of high and unique biodiversity. This area is being threatened by bauxite mining, a mineral used to make aluminum.

Forests for a Just Future aims to make forest governance more sustainable and inclusive, in a way that promotes climate mitigation, human rights and preserving the livelihoods of local communities. In this project, A Rocha Ghana focuses on the Atewa forest and Juaboso-Bia Sefwi-Wiawso forest landscapes. A Rocha Ghana aims to build a social movement that defends forests and biodiversity and supports communities to protect their environmental rights.

Through MoMo4C, A Rocha Ghana works with communities, government agencies and private sector organisations on creating an inclusive enabling environment for green entrepreneurship and the mobilisation of finance for climate and nature projects.

Strengthen the Roots works on empowering small community organizations that stand up for nature in and around their communities, enabling them to mobilize local support for their work. This way, Strengthen the Roots works on nature conservation that is not performed top-down, but is driven by the collective strength of community organisations. Together with IUCN NL, A Rocha Ghana teaches conservationists how to raise funds locally and how to stand up for their rights.

More information?

Sander van Andel
Senior Expert Nature Conservation
Maartje Hilterman
Project Leader – Forests for a Just Future