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John-Baptist S. N. Naah, MSc - Former PhD Student

My Research Areas and Interests

With a multi-disciplinary academic background, I have interest not only in rangeland ecology & wildlife management but also in technology and resources management in the tropics and subtropics (decentralized renewable energy technologies option). Having passion for blend of social and ecological sciences, my current PhD research is focusing chiefly on ethnoecology (ethnobotany) so as to better understand and harness anthropological and ecological interconnectivity for sustainable natural resources management in the face of adverse climate change impacts. Thus, I am specifically investigating local ecological knowledge (LEK) on forage resources for livestock production in ethnically and linguistically diverse selected villages situated in Northern Ghana and Southern-central Burkina Faso.



MSc in Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics ‘11
BSc in Natural Resources Management (Wildlife and Range Management) ‘06


Title of Doctoral Thesis

Towards an understanding and harnessing of Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) of Forage Resources for sustainable rangeland management in the Sudanian Zone of West Africa

Local ecological knowledge (LEK) is a useful approach to understanding interactions between the ecological and social sub-system of complex social-ecological systems. LEK has received increasing attention in studies on the effects of climate and land use change on the availability and utilization of forage resources in communal rangelands. The principal goal of this study is to investigate local farmers’ knowledge on forage resources and how they adapt their rangeland management strategies to the spatio-temporal patterns of forage availability. We hypothesize that LEK can potentially provide insight into reasons why forage resources are overexploited, and into management strategies to conserve or restore them. The PhD study is split into three tasks, dealing with (i) ethnobotanical knowledge on forage resources, (ii) livestock mobility patterns, and (iii) the socio-economic embedding of grazing management strategies. Field work will be carried out in Ghana and Burkina Faso along a climatic gradient of increasing aridity, implying a decreasing reliability of forage resources. Using a stratified random sampling approach, 15 villages within three climate zones along the aridity gradient will be selected. Climate zones correspond to three dominant ethnic groups within the study area. Within villages, local informants will be selected based on age and gender. To match LEK on forage resources to ecological information, data on the woody vegetation as well as the herbaceous layer in proximity to core villages will be collected on 20 x 50m plots and 10 x 10m plots respectively. Univariate and multivariate statistics using ANTHROPAC 4.0 and STATISTICA software packages will be employed in the data analysis and allometric calculations to be done on forage supply by woody plants. We envisage that this research output will shed some new light on how LEK can be harnessed for designing rangeland monitoring and land-use management guidelines which are locally appropriate, scientifically agreeable, socially acceptable and implementable through effective dialogue with policy-makers and local communities.

Key words: Ethnobotany, forage resources, spatio-temporal patterns, LEK, Sudanian savannas, West Africa


Academic Education

10/2012 - 02/2016 PhD student at the Institute of Botany, Range Ecology and Range Management Group, Dr. Anja Linstädter, University of Cologne.

2009 - 2011 MSc in Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany. Thesis title: “The Socio-economic Impact Assessment of Stand-alone Photovoltaic (PV) Electrification on Rural Livelihoods: Experiences in the Upper West Region of Ghana”

2002 - 2006 BSc in Natural Resources Management (Wildlife and Range Management), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana. Thesis title: “The Ethnobotanical Survey: The case of the Wechiau Community-based Hippo Sanctuary in the Upper West Region, Ghana”


Professional Experience (scientific only)

06/2008 - 06/2009 District Director, National Service Secretariat (NSS), Nadowli District, Upper West region, Ghana

09/2007 - 10/2007 Earthwatch fellow. Project topic: “The Ecology and Conservation of the White-necked rock fowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus)” in the Brong-Ahafo Region (Asumura), Ghana.

10/2006 - 06/2007 Teaching and Research Assistant, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

08/2006 - 10/2006 Intern in Nurnberg Zoo, Germany Core responsibilities: Compilation and modification of the preliminary datasheets for the Marsupial Regional Plan of the European Zoo Association (EAZA). Also, collection and analysis of data on socialization of the Grevy’s Zebras in Nuremberg Zoo and attended ten-day practical course on Mammalian Behavioral Biology under the supervision of Dr. Dr. Udo Ganslosser.


Grants and awards

BMBF scholarship for doctoral studies at University of Cologne, Germany (2012 - 2016)

Award of certificate of participation as a UN Volunteer for 64th Annual UN-DPI/NGO conference, city of Bonn, Germany (2011)

DAAD Scholarship for MSc studies at Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany (2009 - 2011)

Earthwatch Fellowship for young scientists interested in Conservation Biology, Brong-Ahafo, Ghana (2007)


Publications (peer reviewed)

Naah, J.S.N. & J. Hamhaber, 2015. Lighting up the villages: Livelihood impacts of decentralized stand-alone solar photovoltaic electrification in rural northern Ghana. Journal of Natural Resources and Development 5:1-13.
J.S.N. Naah, 2015. Evaluating impacts of distributed solar home systems in rural communities: Lessons learnt from Ghana Energy Development and Access Project in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The Journal of Energy and Natural Resource Management 4.


Conference Contributions

Naah, J. S. N., I. Eguavoen, R. T. Guuroh,  A. Linstädter, 2015. Distributional patterns of local ecological knowledge on forage plants: Insights from local agro-pastoralists in West Africa. 45th Anniversary Conference of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ), 31th August – 04th September 2015, Göttingen, Germany. [Poster]