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.