Urban trees are planted and protected for the benefits and services they provide to humans and the environment. Within this context they have received attention for their ability to store gaseous pollutants, reduce noise levels, beautify the cityscape or serve as important features in recreational spaces like parks. Urban trees offer more than these services, however, as tangible products, such as fuelwood, food or medicine, can also be obtained from them. While the potential value of these products, especially for the ‘urban poor’ in ‘developing countries’, has been brought up in the literature, there is limited information available that goes beyond basic lists of urban tree species and their products. How urban trees and their benefits fit within wider systems of individual and household production and reproduction is rarely investigated. Even rarer is sustained academic or policy treatment of how urban forestry is situated within broader processes of environmental management, regional planning, and urban development, which have, like the wider Ghanaian economy and society more generally, undergone far-reaching transformations under neoliberalism, globalisation and climate change adaptation in recent decades.
My research aims to investigate the history, form and function of urban forests/forestry in Accra/Ghana, and to assess the role urban forests and trees play in the livelihoods of Accra’s ‘poor’.