Our Mission

Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) is a Ghanaian non-profit organisation implementing conservation initiatives in order to promote a greater awareness of and protection for the natural, historic and cultural diversity of Ghana and other African countries.

Our Philosophy

NCRC holds the core philosophy that conservation in Ghana is best pursued in settings where there are economic and cultural incentives to its implementation. In other words, conservation in Ghana should emerge from local cultural belief systems and must have tangible economic returns for the human beings living in the immediate area. Without the pillars of culture and economics, we believe that conservation will not succeed in Ghana. In line with this core philosophy, NCRC seeks to use positive cultural practices and income generation potential to advance our organizational mission.

NCRC Strengths

Nature Conservation Research Centre– (NCRC) is a registered non-profit organization in Ghana (Reg. No: G 897) which is headquartered in Accra. NCRC is a leading conservation NGO with direct involvement in West Africa and East Africa/Horn of Africa. NCRC has been a strong advocate of local ownership in conservation processes. The Centre works with communities, traditional leadership, governments, civil society and private sector to develop conservation initiatives that are owned and managed by forest dependent communities.

The Centre has deep experience in conceiving and developing community-based institutional platforms for operating such projects. Since the early 1990s, NCRC’s team was a pioneer of the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) model with the Wechiau CREMA that is widely recognized as the most mature and successful CREMA in the Ghana. The Wechiau organic shea program has been particularly successful in delivering biodiversity and economic results for the communities and CREMA. NCRC’s learning has been replicated in several other CREMAs in the forest zone with wider NTFP strategies linked to climate smart cocoa.

NCRC was one of the earliest African NGOs to actively engage with REDD+, FCPF and UN-REDD dating to 2007. The Centre has been involved in REDD+ issues at the national policy level and site level, initiating or providing technical support to pilot projects in 8 African countries. In particular, NCRC has led the process in Ghana to highlight the opportunities that climate-smart agriculture represents for a more sustainable cocoa sector and coffee landscapes of the Ethiopian highlands.

NCRC has also facilitated the broadest pan-African REDD+ policy dialogue series to date. This initiative has brought together 7 countries from East and West Africa to exchange and learn through South-South exchange. The major areas of discussion and action include REDD registries, nesting and Jurisdictional approaches, and biomass mapping. NCRC has also collaborated with CCBA to develop new standards to assist African community and small-holder projects. As such, NCRC is one of the best positioned African NGOs to understand and represent the interests, concerns and issues of NGOs in this space across the continent.

Over the past number of years, the Centre has planned and implemented numerous REDD+ and climate smart agriculture training and capacity building events hosted by governments and other NGOs. Examples include REDD trainings for traditional leaders and national pilot proponents in Ghana, REDD trainings for community members and leaders in Nigeria, biomass sampling trainings in Liberia, Nigeria and Ethiopia, and presentations on climate smart agriculture opportunities for the private and international NGOs. NCRC has also supported extensive exchanges on REDD between Brazilian NGOs and African country NGOs.

Our Partners

  • Climate Change Unit – Forestry Commission
  • Wildlife Division – Forestry Commission
  • Ministry of Tourism (MoT)
  • Ghana Tourist Authority (GTB)
  • Ghana Cocoa Board and Cocoa Research Institute
  • Swiss Development Cooperation
  • IUCN – Netherlands Committee (IUCN-NL)
  • Calgary Zoological Society (CZS)
  • Winrock International
  • VCS – Verified Carbon Standard
  • Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

John Mason

Chief Executive Officer

John J. Mason is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) - a leading African conservation NGO based in Accra, Ghana. Born and raised in Nigeria, Mason has been based in Ghana for 32 years and is regarded as one of the leading voices for local community participation in conservation initiatives in West Africa. He was one of the first to draw attention to the long-term threat of climate change to the economically crucial cocoa sector of the sub-region.

An advocate of local ownership of biodiversity conservation processes, he has worked with communities, traditional leadership, governments, civil society and private sector in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia to develop conservation initiatives that are owned and managed by forest dependent communities. He was one of the pioneers in the development of the highly successful Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) model which is being adapted to address the challenges of delivering community benefits under PES and REDD+ initiatives across Africa.

Together with his team at NCRC, he has catalyzed REDD+ and climate smart agriculture initiatives from Liberia to Ethiopia. Engaged in Ethiopia since 2010, he led the preparation of the Bale Mountains Eco-region REDD+ PDD process and was the one of the early visionaries for the Oromia REDD+ Programme. He has been instrumental in securing USD 350 million in climate finance into Africa. Since 2014, he has facilitated the engagement of large-scale international private sector investment negotiations into Ethiopia’s plantation forestry sector and has been an advisor to a large-scale IWS scheme for the Blue Nile Basin in western Ethiopia.

He is the joint founder of Ecolodge Company Ghana Ltd, the 1st entity developing luxury lodges inside Ghana’s national parks and community reserves and generating PES from tourism services. With its 1st lodge operational, the Zaina brand is planning 2 more lodges to open in Ghana for 2018.

He is in demand as a speaker and instructor at specialist events. He is a member of the UN-REDD and World Bank Technical Advisory Panels for the REDD+ Readiness processes in African countries. He holds degrees from University of Guelph and University of Waterloo and diploma from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Dr. Rebecca Ashley Asare

Director of Programs and Research

Dr. Rebecca Ashley Asare is the Director of Programs and Research at Nature Conservation Research Centre in Accra, Ghana. Rebecca is a continental thought-leader on REDD+ and climate-smart agriculture (CSA), an expert on cocoa farming systems and directs socio-ecological research on forest-agricultural landscapes. She is highly effective at achieving impacts through research, collaborative processes, and integrated natural resource management approaches.

Rebecca is currently spearheading a team to develop Africa’s first commodity-based emission reductions program—the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme—which aims to double farmers’ yield, produce the first climate-smart cocoa beans, and reduce over 300 million tons of CO2 emissions reductions over the next twenty years through avoided deforestation and degradation. More broadly, Rebecca has extensive experience in forest and agricultural carbon feasibility assessments; including studies of land use and land use change, carbon stock measurement, and articulation of activities and interventions.
Rebecca specializes in working with African governments and other stakeholders to build REDD+ architectures, develop national REDD+ strategies, draft CSA guidelines and landscapes standards, support policy assessments and reforms, and to build capacity through trainings and south-south exchanges.

A Strong Proponent

At the landscape and community level, Rebecca is a strong proponent of community-based natural resource management. She has worked with communities on national park conservation in both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, and collaborates with farmers and traditional leaders on strategies to maintain trees and forests in the farming landscape. Rebecca is currently co-leading a field team that is implementing six CREMA governance platforms in northern Ghana with more than 100 communities to foster biodiversity conservation, improved landscape management, and the creation of new natural resource revenue streams.


In an effort to fill critical data and information gaps, Rebecca is committed to implementing and guiding research that explores the relationships between people and agro-forest ecosystems, including cocoa and oil palm tree crop systems. Rebecca has a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from Yale University and a Master’s of Environmental Science in Agroforesty from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her doctoral research focused on the biophysical and social dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa farming system, and sought to understand the main factors driving cocoa farmers’ decision processes and practices in shade management.

Rebecca has lived in Africa for over 17 years; working in more than twelve countries as a scientist, a conservation and development practitioner, and an NRM and climate change mitigation consultant for organizations that include the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Forest Trends, the World Agroforestry Center (ICARF), WWF’s West Africa office (WARPO), and the U.S. Peace Corps as a rural water specialist in Cote d’Ivoire. In 2005, Rebecca made Ghana her home, where she is the mother to 2 young, confident, and vivacious daughters.

Charles Bandari

Finance officer

Charles Bandari has been through the position of Accounts/Admin clerk and rose to the position of Finance officer of Nature Conservation Research-NCRC since its inception. He has handled the financial structuring and accounting and reporting on all of its many projects – large and small. He has also been instrumental in the development of financial modelling and benefit-sharing for long-term sustainability with particular regards to CREMA areas such as Wechiau and others.

He holds Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Central University and an MBA from the University of Cape Coast, and a DBA student at Walden University. He has attended a number of short courses including trainer of trainees program with the institute of Management Accounting for NGOs – Mango, organised in Accra and Thailand. Charles also had a CPD program on the USA Government auditing standards.

He has been instrumental in the restructuring of the financial management system for the Good News Bible Church Head Office which resulted in the final account preparation for the first time in the history of church. He championed the investment drive of the church and finding innovative ways of raising funds for the Church.

Charles has been organising seminars on business management for small businesses on innovations in financing SMEs and HR best practices for SMEs long-term sustainability.


NCRC has well-established systems for annual budgeting, planning, expenditure approval processes and accounting. The Centre undergoes annual external audit and management review (20 years of positive audit reports on file). NCRC has passed financial systems reviews by international bilateral and foundation partners including Canadian and USA governments.

Board of Directors

The NCRC Board of Directors provides oversight and guidance for the Centre’s overall strategy and direction. The current Board membership includes:

  • Mrs. Philippa Pepera – Chairperson
  • Mrs. Norkor Duah
  • Mr. Joseph Gelbire Bewong (Naba Sigri Bewong II)
  • Mr. Danyagiri Walaman-i (Tokali Naa)
  • Mrs. Shola Safo-Doudu
  • Mr. John J. Mason – Secretary

Mother Nature: Worth Saving...!

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Conservation Initiatives

NCRC’s work has demonstrated that traditional communities can lead highly successful conservation initiatives, as shown by community partnerships in Ghana including Wechiau, Boabeng-Fiema, Dorimon and other locations.