Measuring Biodiversity

GeoTraceability Presents an Innovative Biodiversity Module

GeoTraceability has developed technologies to collect data on key biodiversity indicators and together with implementing partner Armajaro, has already populated a web database with over 10,000 cocoa producing hectares in Ghana.

Through the IFC-funded Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP), GeoTraceability has developed in partnership with Armajaro Trading Ltd. and Bioversity International, a methodology to collect, process and analyse data on key biodiversity indicators on cocoa producing fields in Ghana. Some key indicators are: number of shade trees per hectare, carbon stock, vegetation structure and succession, native and exotic tree dominations, primary tree uses (from which we can deduce cash and food value), land uses adjacent to the farm.

“Tropical rainforests are estimated to account for more than half of the plant and animal species on earth. Around the world, an estimated 27,000 species are lost each year due to the destruction of the rain forests. The single most important factor in species extinction is the destruction of habitat that occurs with forest conversion for agricultural purposes.” (Sustainable Tree Crops Program, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture).
Users of the module can expect to gain key insight on factors like shade pattern, species diversity and dead trees which can impact cocoa production, carbon stock potential on cocoa farms for carbon storage programs and primary tree use to inform farmer training programs. Biodiversity data can highlight areas to unlock income potential for farmers and companies, such as farms which are already good candidates for certification. The data can be used to target particular farms, communities or regions for programs such as shade tree seedlings.

A key success of the module is the translation of highly scientific, technical content into a user-friendly and digestible format. This shows GeoTraceability’s capability to handle complex data collection projects and deliver bespoke reporting tools.

Promoting the Value of Biodiversity on Cocoa Farms

Data collection on biodiversity indicators has started in Ghana.

Following the most recent field visit in Ghana to analyse test results for the IFC-funded project, research consultants Bioversity International developed a specialised rapid biodiversity assessment method in order to take a base-line study of biodiversity levels on cocoa farms. Our challenge was to design a method that is both accurate and replicable, while being rapid and practical enough for field staff to carry out alongside farm mapping duties. The method will be used to collect data on over 10,000 farms in Ghana, before being widely available for global roll-out.

The conservation and promotion of biodiversity in agriculture is important not only for a sound ecosystem, but also to diversify farmer income and diet which is important for sustainable livelihoods and food and nutrition security. On cocoa farms, 30-40% mature shade tree coverage is recommended (i.e.: 70% sunlight); Asare, R. and David, S. (2010), “Planting, replanting and tree diversification in cocoa systems. Learning about sustainable cocoa production: a guide for participatory farmer training”.

The data from this GeoTraceability biodiversity module will be used among other things to inform training programs which help farmers realise the benefit of biodiversity.

GeoTraceability is partnering with various stakeholders to promote friendly practices on cocoa farms through large-scale data collection and farmer training

GeoTraceability Ltd is partnering with International Finance Corporation, Armajaro Trading Ltd, Bioversity International, Source Trust and, through Ghana Cocoa Board, Ghanaian cocoa farmers to improve farming practices that integrate biodiversity-friendly practices. Through a 18 months project, we’re developing a field biodiversity assessment methodology that will be applied to the farms of 4,000 Ghanaian cocoa producers with data collection on farm size and shape, agricultural practices and biodiversity indicators in order to promote biodiversity-friendly practices through appropriate training.

Visibility of Biodiversity data helps our clients to address consumer concerns such as food security, crop sustainability and environmental impacts. The data is used by our clients to develop training and mitigation programs to promote economic and environmental values to cocoa farmers.