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1.1.1 Location

The Republic of Ghana is located on the West Coast of Africa, situated between latitudes 4o and 11.5o north of the equator. It has a total land area of 23.85 million ha and is bordered by Togo on the east, La Côte D’Ivoire on the west, Burkina Faso on the north and the Atlantic Ocean on the south.

1.1.2 Climate

Ghana is characterized by a tropical climate but the annual rainfall level decreases as the altitude increases to the north, where a savannah climate becomes dominant. Most part of the country belongs to the Tropical Savannas Climate and the Sub-Sahelian African moist region. The annual mean temperature ranges from 25oC to 27oC and is fairly constant throughout the year. The annual rainfall is as high as 2,000 mm in the southwestern part of the country but decreases towards the northeast, dropping to 1,000 mm at the northern border area.

1.1.3. Vegetation Cover

The natural vegetation cover over the vast areas of Ghana is closely related to the mean annual rainfall. The major vegetation formations are the closed forest, northern savannah, coastal savannah and the coastal strand and mangrove formation. The country is roughly divided into the High Forest zone in the south, accounting for a third of the land area and the Savannah Zone in the north, accounting for the remaining two-thirds.The closed forest zone contains high value redwoods and other species of commercial importance.

1.1.4 Land Use Categories

The traditional land uses in Ghana are small and large scale farming, forestry, wood fuel, cattle grazing, urbanization, tree plantations of exotic and indigenous species (cocoa, rubber, timber), and game/park reserves.

Within the high forest zone, 1.76 million ha (21% of High Forest Zone) are permanently protected. Occupancy and agriculture are not permitted within the reserves, however, certain lands within the reserve, were alienated as admitted farms at the time of gazetting the reserves. Additionally, agriculture is practiced within reserves as a component of the Taungya system of plantation established under departmental control and supervision. About 126,600 ha in Forest Reserves are under the jurisdiction of the Wildlife Division as Protected Areas.

Outside the permanently protected forest estates, there is very little intact forest remaining and much of this is confined to sacred groves and other culturally significant areas. Timber exploitations take place within timber contract areas, which cover both on and off Forest Reserves. Off reserved timber trees mostly stand on farmlands and fallow areas.

Importance of Forestry

Agriculture, including forestry, is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. It provides 43% of the Gross Domestic Product, 50% of export earnings and 70% of total employment. Forestry as a sub-sector accounts for 6% of the GDP, 11% of export earnings and employs a labor force of 100,000 people.

Most of the rural population depends on the forests for their survival as forestry has played a significant role in the provision of food, clothing, shelter, furniture, potable water supply sources and bushmeat, thus providing livelihood for over 2.5 million people. The forests are also highly valued as sources of natural medicines, which are essential components of health treatment, which is commonly used in conjunction with mystical and ritual practices.

The timber industry is the third most important foreign exchange earner of the country. It is one of the fastest growing manufacturing units in the country and generates more employment and income to a majority of Ghanaians.



1.2.1 Forest Resources

The forest area of Ghana is estimated at 9.17 million ha accounting for about 40% of the total national land. The classification of these forests, based on ecological conditions, puts the Closed Forest Zone area at 8.1342 million ha, 1.036 million Transitional Forests and the Savanna Forest Zone at 14.66 million ha, giving the total area 23.85 million ha. The Closed Forest Zone is categorized into Evergreen Rainforest, Evergreen Moist Forest and Moist Semi-deciduous Forest.

1.2.2 Forest Conditions Today

In 1992, it was estimated that only about 1.5 million ha of "intact closed forest" were remaining in Ghana. The annual rate of deforestation was said to have slowed in the 1980s to about 22,000 ha (FAO, 1988, & IUCN, 1992). The current annual rate of deforestation is not known but it is estimated to be lower than what it used to be two decades ago.

Status of Forest Reserves:

According to a study conducted by Hawthorne and Juam (1993), about half of Ghana's reserved forests, (about 9,000 km2) are in a condition described as reasonable. The rest are either mostly degraded or in worse conditions.

The state of the forest reserves indicates that there is a general increase in forest disturbance from the wetter to the drier forest areas. About 14% of the total permanent forest estates in Ghana are without adequate forest cover. The worse affected areas are the Moist Semi-deciduous North-west and South-east subtype Forest Zones. These are the results of both forest fires and logging damage. It is clear, however, that while reserve boundaries have been largely protected and respected, the condition of the reserves within are variable and in many cases deteriorating.

Conditions of Off-Reserved and Farm Forest Resources:

Data on the conditions and the extent of coverage of the intact closed canopy forests outside the Forest Reserves are rather scanty and ambiguous. Nsenkyire (1992) estimated intact closed canopy outside the reserves at about 3,740 km2 whilst the World Bank (1987) estimated it to be 2,700 km2. The IUCN estimated it as 1,000 km2. Hawthorne (1990) and Norton (1991) (cited in Abu Juam, 1993) estimated that closed canopy forest outside resources may comprise as little as a fifth of IUCN estimate; much of it in small, scattered patches e.g. swamps and sacred groves.

Sacred Groves:

In the southern part of the country, small areas of intact or slightly degraded forest can be found that have been reserved due to religious and traditional beliefs. These sacred groves, as they are called, have various underlying beliefs and prohibitions, but the common denominator is that cutting of trees for timber is prohibited. These groves add considerable value to the protected area of forests of high genetic value, which are poorly represented in state-managed Forest Reserves.

1.2.3 Forest Resources & Production Potential

The area of intact tropical high forest in Ghana has been estimated to be approximately 1.6 million ha. The various categories of production areas are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Area of Intact Forests Resources In Ghana

Forest type

Area (ha)


Timber Production Area



Permanent Protection









Not inventoried (conversion)



Total Reserve Area



Source: Forest Service Division, 1995

The permanent protection areas consist largely of hill sanctuaries, swamp sanctuaries, shelterbelts, special biological protection areas, intact forest sanctuaries and fire protection areas. According to the inventory reports (March, 1995) only 15% of the area, which is protected on grounds of genetic diversity, is well stocked and accessible. The rest of the areas are either inaccessible or degraded.

The convalescence areas are those with reduced stocking, but which are considered capable of rehabilitation within one felling cycle. Conversion areas require planting. The production timber areas are forestlands where present production is extracted using the interim yield formula. It has also been estimated that intact closed canopy forest outside the permanent forest estate, available for timber production is about 374,000 ha. Plantation forests cover about 50,000 ha.

Standing Volume:

Report of recent inventory carried out by the Forest Services Division indicates that out of 300 species inventoried, 60 species could be classified as of commercial interest (based on current demand). The gross national standing volume (All species class) is estimated at 188 million m3.

Annual Allowable Cut-Cross:

The Forest Services Division in 1990 estimated that the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) for already exported species was 1.2 m3/ha/year. This brought the AAC at 1.2 million m3. However, by 1995 it had been found that this production rate was not sustainable since most of the forests were progressively depleted in stocks of some major species. The annual yield for species groups was therefore calculated as follows:

Table 2: Annual Sustainable Yield From Reserves:

Species Group


Volume (m3)







Promotable Pink






Source: Forest Services Division FIMP (1995)

Scarlet species are under imminent threat of economic extinction

Red species are those for which current rates of exploitation present a significant danger of economic extinction

Pink species are significantly exploited, but not yet so as to cause concern for their economic future

Promotable pink species are those suitable for increased exploitation on grounds of their ecological abundance and economic potential

A sustainable level of production from the reserves of the 32 Scarlet and Red species currently favoured by the industry and the export market would be no more than 0.32 million m3 per year. The commercial utilization of Promotable Pink species is estimated to be 0.36 million m3. Thus the total "on-reserve" harvest is estimated as 0.68 million m3 per year as indicated in the table. However, based on sustained yield basis the total net AAC for Ghana for the species that the past 15 years have been exported, considering only the volumes above limit diameter available and a 63-year rotation period is about 1.0 million m3. This is made up of 0.50 million m3 from reserved forests and 0.5 million m3 per year for off-reserves.

It could be inferred from the foregoing that the 762,400 ha of reserved forests suitable for timber exploitation can only generate 683,100 m3 of logs.

1.2.4 Present Production & Stocks

Timber production in Ghana is derived from the high forest and the volume of harvesting over the years has not been within sustainable levels. Statistics from the Forest Services Division indicate that, the level of harvesting over the last 10 years has been exceeding the AAC, indicating that the forest capacity has been surpassed for almost a decade. On the average more than 46% capacity of the forest has been exceeded during the period.

Log Production:

The timber industry presently turns out a host of wood products for both domestic consumption and for export. Over the years there has been expansion in scope of wood products for exports while the domestic market has also shown considerable increase in wood products utilization. Log production, export and consumption increased tremendously up to 1994 when it dropped. Log exports also increased steadily until 1995 when a temporary ban was placed on the export of round logs. The ban has placed more logs on the domestic market. The domestic consumers of log are the primary and secondary processing mills such as sawmills, plywood and veneer mills.

Fuel Wood Consumption:

It is reliably estimated that 14 million m3 of wood are consumed for energy production3. It has also been estimated that the volume of fuel wood consumption in Ghana could rise to 20 million m3 by the year 2010. About 69% of all urban households in Ghana use charcoal for cooking and heating and the annual per capita consumption is around 180 kg. The total annual consumption is about 700,000 tons, 30% of which is consumed in the capital, Accra.

Charcoal produc tion is concentrated in the transition zones between the forest and the savanna woodlands. Most of the wood comes from savanna trees, which are felled for this purpose, and also from logging residues. It is being estimated that of the total round wood production in Ghana, 91% is used as fuel wood and for charcoal. The remaining (9%) is used as industrial round wood.

1.2.5 Production, Export & Consumption of Sawn timber

Saw milling has recorded a rising trend in production just as the export and domestic consumption of sawn timber, particularly during the post-Economic Recovery Program era of 1983. The total sawn timber production has been increasing from 472,000 m3 in 1990 to 740,000 m3 in 1997. Local consumption of sawn timber has increased from a level of 270,000 m3 in 1990 to 461,000 m3 in 1997.

Production, Export and Consumption of Veneers:

The production, export and local consumption of veneers (comprising sliced, rotary, jointed and reconstituted veneers) have all shown increasing trends. According to the Timber Export Development Division, total production of wood-based panel products such as profile boards, chipboards/particleboards, blackboards, etc has increased from an average of about 50,000 m3 in 1983 to 70,000 m3 in 1994. The estimates put export over 30% of annual production.

Export Performance of Wood Products:

From a low level of about 102,000 m3 in 1982, exports of timber products climbed to about 428,000 m3 in 1991 and to over 0.9 million m3 in a peak performance in 1994. This has since dropped to about 365,000 m3 by the end of 1996. Correspondingly, values also shot up from DM 173.0 million in 1991, rising gradually to a record height of DM 354.2 million in 1995 and DM 222 million in 1996.

1.2.6 Milling Capacity in the Timber Industry

The timber industry is characterized by an over-capacity of out-dated and inefficient equipment, rated at an intake of some 2 million m3 per year. There is evidence that this over-capacity is increasing, due largely to new investments wanting to take advantage of the relatively cheap raw material and existing loopholes in investment incentives provisions. At the same time, some of the larger companies have invested in down-stream processing and are successfully finding markets for lesser-known Pink-species that have been converted to finished products. More recently, kiln-drying capacity for lumber seasoning has increased substantially in response to the new export levy on air-dried lumber. This positive trend sets the stage for growth in further value-added production and marketing.

The industry has traditionally concentrated on exports, to the neglect of the local market. The output of processed products increased significantly. At the same time, supplies to the local market (estimated at a demand of 0.7 million m3 per year) were supplemented by illegal logging and chainsaw operations. The domestic demand is likely to rise or to keep pace with the expanding building construction industry and the growth of the economy (currently 3.8%, targeted at 5% per year).

1.2.7 Wood Export Markets

The European countries notably Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and the Netherlands are the major export markets for Ghana’s wood products accounting for about 70% by volume and value respectively of total timber exports in 1998.

Government's policy on the marketing of timber and wood products has been to lessen the country's dependence on the traditional market of Europe and diversify the timber export markets. It can be said that this policy of market diversification is yielding results, particularly in opening up the Middle East, the Far East and the U.S.A..

1.2.8 End-Uses of Domestic Lumber

The domestic lumber is used by the following category of trades:

Small scale furniture manufacturing companies

Truck body builders/boat builders

Pallets and Crate Users

Construction Companies (housing developers)

Overland wood product exporters

Wood Carvers

Railway Corporations

Furniture Manufacturers:

There are a total of 41,141 small-scale carpenters registered with the Association of Small Scale Carpenters. The small-scale carpenters represent the largest group of end-users. They require 219,000 m3 of sawn timber annually. This represents about 72% of the total domestic timber requirement for the entire country.

Construction/Structural End-Use:

These categories of users are estate developers. It has been estimated that this category of users require 104,000 m3 of sawn timber for constructional and structural use annually. About 50% of these demands are used in the Greater Accra region while 28% is required for the Ashanti region. A study by the TEDD indicated that construction companies obtained their supplies from chainsaw operators. Less than 5% are obtained from sawmill supplies, with the remaining part being obtained from chainsaw products, which are cheaper.

Transport Palets, Crates:

About 12,370 m3 of lumber is estimated to be the requirements of the transport sector (including railways) annually. These products are mostly obtained from sawmills since chainsaw operators are unable to cut to specifications.

1.2.9 Lumber Production & Distribution

The Ghanaian wood industry is export-oriented and most of the mills have very low recovery rates. The lumber recovery factor is 20-40% of the log input. The total log requirement of the sawmills in the country is about 1.32 million m3. This figure excludes the volume of logs for other primary wood processing activities like veneer and ply milling. The volume of log requirement in the regions for domestic use far exceeds the AAC of 1.0 million m3. Since investors have already sunk money to establish their mills they use all possible means to get logs to feed their mills, hence the continuous illegal harvesting of trees.

The total volume of sawmill lumber available for domestic use is only 152,660 m3 per year, yet the demand of the domestic end-users is about 384,730 m3. This means that the difference of 230,070 m3 has to be supplied from other sources.



1.3.1 Forest Policy Goals and Objectives

Ghana’s Forests Policy has gone from encouraging the rapid exploitation of the forest for timber during the immediate post-independence period, to forest conservation through increasing domestic value-added in the processing of wood products. The 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy provides a framework for forest resource use and administration, which reflects the realities and aspirations of Ghana today. It defines the principles and objectives of forest resource management and the strategies for achieving those objectives.

The Policy was formulated at a time when Ghana was just ending a long period of military rule and entering a new period of constitutional democracy. The 1992 Constitution laid down a series of Directive Principles of State Policy to guide all citizens, Parliament and any other bodies taking and implementing policy decisions. These included: a democratic political system, social justice, participation in development processes, a system of decentralized local government and national economic development, a major base role for the private sector and a redress of the imbalance between the rural and urban areas.

The Constitution also required the Government to prepare a 25 year National Development Policy Framework that became known as Ghana-Vision 2020. This framework recognizes that while there has been an increase in GDP of 52% from 1984 to 1993, most people’s per annum income is still below the 1975 level. More than one-third of Ghanaians live below the poverty line. The vision for Ghana is to become a middle-income country by the year 2020.

The new Forest and Wildlife Policy reflects the development aspirations of Ghana today as defined by the Constitution and Vision 2020 and its responsibilities towards the international community. The overall aim of the Policy is the: "Conservation and sustainable development of the nation’s forest and wildlife resources for the maintenance of environmental quality and perpetual flow of benefits to all segments of society." The objectives of forest resource management on and off reserve are also stated. These objectives provide a clear statement of what is regarded as a legitimate interest in the resource.

1.3.2 Legitimate Interests and Rational Roles

The Forest and Wildlife Policy states that the objective of managing the permanent forest estate is to: "Manage and enhance Ghana’s permanent estate of forest and wildlife resources, for preservation of vital soil and water resources, conservation of biological diversity and the environment and the sustainable production of domestic and commercial produce."

The forest reserves will be managed by the institutions of the state explicitly in the national interest and for the benefit of the local resource owners; the global interest in biodiversity is also acknowledged. The Policy accords the protective values of the reserves prior to production.

In the old framework, the timber contractors had de facto become the primary client of those institutions charged by society with managing the permanent forest estate. The timber contractor was able to use his accumulated wealth to influence the operations of the state in his favour! Under the new policy it is envisaged that the rural resource owning communities will be re-instated as primary clients of resource management with an inalienable right to real monetary gains from resource management.

The Forestry Commission as the manager of the forest estate advertises forest contract areas and awards contracts on competitive basis to deserving timber contractors to undertake operations prescribed in the management plan in the interest of the clients. The contractors are required to operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and will be engaged on contractual terms that allow for a reasonable profit. The old concession system has been abolished and replaced with a new TUC system, which favours efficiency, transparency and accountability in the timber operations.

Outside the forest reserves, the Policy recognizes the immediate need for "Inclusion of unreserved forests under Forest Services Division’s management system for regulation of uncontrolled harvesting and promotion of resource development programs, encouragement of local community initiatives, enhanced land an tree tenure rights of farmers." The long-term objective of forest resource management outside reserves is to ensure greater local control over resource use and to promote forestry with agriculture to create vibrant rural economies based on judicious use of renewable resources.

1.3.3 Strategies for Sustainable Forestry

The Forest and Wildlife Policy includes a set of strategies to achieve the new sustainable forest resource use objectives and to begin to dismantle the old political economy. These strategies are, inter alia:

Competitive procedures for allocation of forest utilization contracts to ensure only capable and properly equipped operators will have access to the resource; concession leases will be replaced with Timber Utilisation Contracts

Effective felling controls and standards will be introduced on and off-reserve to ensure compliance with a sustainable AAC

Market-led pricing of forest products to reflect the economic value of the resource, to ensure efficient resource utilization, to provide adequate funds for resource management and an equitable share of revenue to the owners: stumpage will be linked to fob and significantly increased

Improvement of accounting and timely collection of resource utilisation revenues in order to augment the finances of institutions

Conversion of the timber industry into a low volume, high value industry; value added processing will be encouraged

Private sector investment in commercial plantation development will be encouraged

Revision of resource management standards and prescriptions for sustainable forest management

Establishment of databases and information linkages to facilitate decision making and policy analysis

The Policy places particular emphasis on people’s participation in the management of forest resources with rights to consultation, access and benefits

Promote public awareness and involvement of rural people in forestry and wildlife conservation

Review of legislative instruments and administrative arrangements to ensure effective resource management

Institutional reform of the Forestry Department into a Forest Service outside of the Civil Service and founded on a modern, business-like and rational corporate culture and a commitment to the provision of cost-effective resource management services

1.3.4. Progress Made So Far

Considerable progress has been made since 1994 in implementing the strategies outlined in the Forest and Wildlife Policy and incorporated into the 1996 Forestry Development Master Plan.

Developments in Forest Conservation:

Timber Utilization Contracts(TUC)

The Government suspended the granting of new concessions in 1991, strenuous efforts have been made since then to replace timber leases with timber utilization contracts awarded on the basis of competitive tendering.

Effective Felling Control and the AAC

In 1996 the Government confirmed its acceptance of the new combined AAC (of 1 million m³ on and off reserve) and its determination to introduce new felling controls to ensure compliance with the AAC.

Within the reserves, once the needs of forest reserve protection have been catered for, the remaining healthy forest in effect constitutes the permanent national timber production area. At present this is estimated at 762,400 ha or 47% of the total area under reservation. The FSD has also updated its felling procedures on reserve to ensure harvesting can be kept within the limits of the AAC.

The basic elements of the system are (a) the preparation of harvesting schedules to define the order in which compartments are harvested (b) stock surveys (100% enumeration) in each compartment to determine which trees are available for felling (c) calculation and allocation of the actual yield, based on application of a yield formula (d) issuance of a felling permit.

Outside reserves the main elements of the system are (a) pre-felling inspection of trees by farmers and contractors (b) issuance of felling permit (c) payment of compensation for crop damage (d) issuance of conveyance certificate for removal of logs. The new system has allowed farmers to monitor (and indeed veto) logging on their farms.

Resource pricing:

Timber royalties were originally negotiated locally between chiefs and the contractors. Since 1961, national rates were set for each economic species but administrative procedures had no links to market realities. The chiefs maintain rates at the same pitiful price, generally less than 2% of fob prices. The new policy has introduced prices per tree stumpage, set at 20, 10 or 5% of the fob price depending on resource scarcity.

Promotion of value-added processing:

A temporary suspension on log exports was introduced in November 1995 following the government’s inability to introduce a system of realistic and punitive levies on log exports. In 1997, following persistent opposition, levies on air-dried lumber were finally enforced, two years after the legislation was passed. A series of subsidies to encourage kiln drying, processing of lesser used species and staff re-training have been introduced.

Natural Resources Management:

As indicated earlier, the 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy marks a turning point in the affairs of forestry. The new Policy began a new process and in 1996 when the Government launched a Forestry Development Master Plan to guide the execution of the Policy in the short, medium and long term. In order to ensure that Ghana has the resources, action plans and necessary degree of coordination to implement the Master Plan, the Government has prepared a ten-year sector investment program known as the Natural Resources Management Program (NRMP). The NRMP has been designed in Ghana and provides a framework by which the government can direct and coordinate donor inputs.

The ten-year goal of the NRMP is to "protect, rehabilitate and sustainably manage national land, forest and wildlife resources through collaborative management and to sustainably increase the incomes of rural communities who own these resources".

The most ambitious component of the NRMP is savannah-resource management. This program aims to establish community-based integrated resource management that will unite forestry and agriculture. The program has an explicit poverty-alleviation focus and requires a reorientation of government services from a supply-led to a demand-led approach. The FSD will gradually divest itself of responsibility for the forest reserves in the northern savannah zone. The reserves will be handed to the local communities and assemblies to be managed as part of integrated resource management systems.

In the high-forest zone, the objective is to establish the policy, legal, administrative and technical bases for sustainable forest management, including biodiversity conservation, collaboration and efficient utilization of forest products by the private and public sectors. During the first two-year period of the NRMP, the project intends to:

Establish and strengthen the Ghana Forest Service

Create public awareness in forestry issues

Introduce new reserve management systems, including collaboration

Operationalize the TUC system

Pilot new collaborative resource management off-reserve

Introduce commercial plantation schemes

Introduce certification of the management of Ghana’s forests

Private sector investments in plantation development:

About 24% of the forest areas are so degraded by bush-fires and over-logging that they have to be converted to plantations. Little has happened since 1983. The under-pricing of the standing resource has generated few funds for resource creation and even fewer timber companies see any reason to plant. The relatively small plantation resource that was established by the Forest Services Division in the 1970s is generally of poor quality and not well managed. These areas are being constituted into Land Banks for plantation development and a Plantation Development Fund being created to assist private investors.

Revision of forest reserve management systems:

In the case of the forest reserves, the new Policy requires that the interests of protection, production and local people all be catered for. A new system of strategic management planning has been devised to help agree objectives in consultation with local people. In addition a new Protection Strategy and a Collaborative Management approach has been worked out.

At the heart of the new system of forest reserve management is the new strategic planning system, which sets the agreed objectives for the management of that particular resource. The plans are strategic documents, which constitute an agreement on the objectives of forest resource management between the managers and the clients. Following extensive surveys and consultations, the local forest manager who then seeks the endorsement of the resource owners and the approval of the Forestry Commission drafts the final plan.

Special Biological Protection Areas:

In 1992 the Forest Services Division completed an extensive botanical survey of the forest estate. Using the results of the survey, a star rating system has been designed to assign each species to a category denoting its conservation priority. Black Star species are the highest priority for protection followed by Gold, Blue and Green Stars respectively. Star values can be manipulated to help forest managers identify genetic hotspots throughout the high forest zone. The numeric value related to the hotspot is known as its Genetic Heat Index (GHI). Forest reserves or portions of reserves with a high Genetic Heat Index (greater than 150) are designated as Special Biological Protection Areas and are permanently removed from production.

Collaborative Forest Management and Forest Management Plans:

Collaboration will re-establish the local communities as primary clients of the FSD with a right to benefit from the wise management of their resource. Collaboration will help ensure that reserve management is equitable and more efficient and ultimately socially sustainable.

The starting point for collaboration is strategic planning; the process by which the objectives of forest reserve management are agreed and management zones for Protection and Production are defined. Following a series of resource surveys and consultations, the first draft of the management plan is presented to the resource owners at a Reserve Management Planning Workshop. The workshop provides the Forest Services Division with the opportunity to explain the new forest policies, the Production and Protection strategies, and the respective roles of the resource owners, the resource managers and the resource utilization contractors.

Forest Management Certification Approach:

Ghana embarked on the forest management certification process in 1996 after a national stakeholder forum held in Kumasi. At the workshop, the stakeholders agreed that certification should be embraced as an important tool in forest management and accountability since it was an essential mechanism which could be used to achieve sustainability of forest management as well as producing forest products aimed at environmentally sensitive markets in Europe.

The certification process was initiated through the creating of a National Committee on Forest Certification (NCFC), chaired by the Technical Director of MLF and comprising stakeholder representatives from sector agencies, trade associations and unions, NGOs, traditional landowners and Ghana Standards Board, the research and university organizations as well as the workers of Ghana represented by the TUC. Subsequently a Technical Working Group (TWG) of the NCFC was commissioned, comprising seven technical specialists, to develop a reference document of Principles, Criteria and Indicators.

Through the assistance of the European Union and the Netherlands Embassy, a Ghana Forest Management Certification System Project was initiated in 1997 to assist Ghana to establish a fully functioning national certification scheme and to establish a comprehensive computer-based system for log tracking. Through the project, the Ministry has been able to finalize draft standards based on the sustainable forest management system with active stakeholder consultation and collaboration. The draft standards were tested in the field in March 2000 at various locations in the country. A three-day international workshop was therefore organized in Accra from April 27 to 29 2000, to share the findings of the field study and to carry the certification process forward.



There are other sectors in the national economy that have significant impacts on the future outlook of the forestry sector in the country. These sectors include the national population and related urban development, agricultural development, road infrastructure development and mineral mining. The on-going activities and development policies and strategies of these sectors, as stated in the national development framework, have been analyzed to show their impact on the forestry sector.

1.4.1 Economic Development framework: Ghana Vision 2020

Ghana’s new development agenda, Ghana Vision 2020, is strategically designed to achieve a middle-income status for Ghana by the year 2020. The thematic focus of Vision 2020, which was launched in 1995, includes economic growth and macroeconomic stability, sustainable and equitable development, effective mobilization on investment resources, efficiency in the use of available human and financial resources, effective financial mediation that is growth inducing, poverty reduction in targeted communities, rural and urban development, environmental protection, human development, good governance and private sector development.

The overall GDP is targeted to increase at an average growth rate of 8%. A more coherent set of policies has been prepared, with population growth rate falling from 3 to 2%.

1.4.2 National Population

The 1984 census revealed that the population was 12.3 million indicating that the population doubled within 24 years. The recent census held in March 2000 has provisionally estimated the country’s population as 18.9 million indicating an annual growth rate of 3.0%. Based on this growth rate it is postulated that the country’s population will reach 33.0 million by 2020 if no effective population control policies are put in place. The average population density is 71 persons/km2, but the actual population distribution is very uneven from one region to the other.

National Population Policy:

Under the Ghana Vision 2020 the following policy targets have been set:

Reduction of the annual rate of population growth of about 3.0% (1998) to 1.5% by 2020, as well as reducing the total fertility rate from 5.5 to 4.0 by the year 2010 and 3.0 by the year 2020

Achieving contraceptive prevalence rate of 15% for modern family planning methods by 2000 and 50% by 2020

Reduction of infant mortality rate from its current level of 77 deaths per 1000 live birth to 24 by the 2020 and reduction of maternal mortality ratio from its current level of 214 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 55 by 2020

Enhancing access to quality reproductive health care, including prevalence prevention and management of reproductive track infections, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS

Strengthening the capacity to integrate demographic factors into national development planning and policy formulation

Implication on forestry outlook:

Rapid population growth is one of the root causes of poverty and forest resource degradation in Ghana. Increases in population growth coupled with migration, especially in the forest areas, also account for the high rate of deforestation. As population density increases and land becomes scarce, its value rises and farmers then find it cost-effective to intensify production. Others resort to clearing virgin forest for additional cultivation. The poor tend to be pushed onto ecologically sensitive areas with low agricultural potential (for example semi-arid savanna, erosion-prone hill-sides and tropical forests). The situation is aggravated where large-scale farmers respond to growing pressure to expand primary commodity export and thus enlarge the areas on which cash crops are grown. There is evidence that large landowners do not protect the quality of their land and soil as much as do small farmers who own their land (Pearce 1986: 48-56).

1.4.3 Urban Development

Ghana’s estimated 18 million people live in about 48,000 settlements, of which 185 are classified as urban, with population excess of 5,000 persons per settlement. Nearly a third of Ghana’s population lives in urban towns and that number is growing. Together, the five largest cities, Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale account for 50% of the urban population.

Comparative country data shows that economic development and urban growth are closely linked, that per capita incomes are consistently higher in urban areas and that urbanization increases more rapidly with economic growth at lower income levels than at higher ones. As the economy continues to expand and grow, urbanization can be expected to accelerate, placing even greater stress on the already overburdened system.

The cities and the urban towns, as centers of industry and service, contribute more than half of National GDP. Urban settlements also play a vital role in rural development as markets and service centers. The Accra-Tema metropolis alone accounts for over 15-20% of GDP and employs over 10% of the national labor forces.

The main challenges facing urbanization in Ghana are:

Inadequacy of urban infrastructure and services such as roads, water supply, sanitation, and solid-waste management, in the face of fast growing population

Urban population growth rates are high, ranging between 3.2 and 4.8% over the past decades

Building capacities in planning, management, finance and operation and maintenance

Weak municipal institutions are unable to provide adequate services to assure the sustainability of services and investments or to mobilize funds for adequate operation and maintenance.

Implications on future forestry outlook

Land clearing for settlement establishment occurs during the expansion of urban and/or rural built-up areas and construction of roads. The National Land Use Planning Committee estimated in 1990 that a unit increase in the urban population requires an additional land area of 33.3 ha for the provision of additional housing, infrastructure and other social services. This gives a clear indication that with increase in urban population, more land is required for technical and social infrastructure development. Usually, substantial parts of the forest reserves are lost to infrastructural development especially during road construction, extension of electricity grids etc. As the urban population increases, therefore more forestlands would be converted into other uses thus limiting the forest resource base.

1.4.4 Road Infrastructural Development

The transport system is the national asset, which are the main arteries and veins for socio-economic development. The transport system consists of about 40,000 km of roads (trunk, feeder and urban), a rail network of 950 km, 2 deep-sea ports, one international airport and 5 domestic airports and the Volta-lake transport system.

In line with the overall national economic objective to make Ghana a middle-income country by 2020, the transport sector’s vision is to make the country the transportation hub of the West African sub-region. This vision seeks to make Ghana the most easily accessible nation within the sub-region so that it can be a good starting point to gain access to other parts of the sub-regional investment and trading.

Implication on future forestry outlook:

Under the medium-term road infrastructure program, Ghana intends to develop and reconstruct 1,188.2 km of road between 2000 and 2002 through donor assistance. Through its own funds the country will construct 835 km of road within the same period.

The massive construction of roads will be directed towards the forest reserves, which will further reduce the forest resource base. Most places would be opened up to accelerate migration encroachment and clearance of forests.

1.4.5 Agricultural sector

The agricultural sector is the dominant sector in the Ghanaian economy. It is by far, the dominant land use in Ghana and shifting cultivation is the main method, using a long fallow rotation. The agricultural sector is made up of 5 sub-sectors namely: crops other than cocoa, (61% of agricultural GDP), cocoa (14%), livestock (7%) fisheries (5 %) and forestry (11%).

Smallholder farmers on family-operated farms, using rathe r rudimentary technology, produce about 80% of the total agricultural production. Only some of the industrial crops such as oil palm, rubber and pineapples are produced on large corporate-managed estates although smallholders also produce significant shares of these crops, especially palm oil. In 1996 60% of the 2.0 million farm holders cultivated under 1.2 ha per holder another 25% cultivated between 1.2 and 2.0 ha per holder while the remaining 15% had holding of over 2.0 ha. On the average 62% of the holders were males (46%-98% across the 10 regions). About 30% of the holders were 50 years or older.

In general, the size of agricultural lands increases every two years by 9%, which indicates the threats of agriculture on forestry development. Increase in agricultural production has been achieved primarily by using more extensive farming methods (especially more land and labour) and only secondarily by an increase in productivity through the application of improved technology. Fertilizer usage, which averages 6 kg/ha with a wide variation across crops, is one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan African.

Out of a total land area of 23.8 million ha, 13 million ha representing 57% of the total land area of Ghana is said to be suitable for agricultural production given current technological know-how. However, the total cultivation in 1994 was only 5.3 million ha representing 39% of the total area suitable for cultivation. Total area under irrigation is 10,000 ha while the area under inland waters is 1.1 million ha.

Agricultural Performance:

The agricultural growth over the last decade averaged 1.9% only. Slow growth in the early 1990s raised concerns about effectiveness of policies to privatize and liberalize agricultural production and marketing. The modest performance of the agricultural sector has serious implications for the poor since poverty in Ghana is largely a problem amongst rural inhabitants, who are engaged in agriculture.

Problems facing the Agriculture Industry:

Non-integration of agriculture with industry

Inadequate financial services and the high cost of capital

Inadequate access to appropriate technology

Underdeveloped infrastructure

Absence of effective agriculture laws and regulations governing the acquisition and disposal of property

Limited access to the regional and international market


Achieving and sustaining food security at the household and national level

Contributing significantly to poverty reduction.

Increasing and sustaining agricultural growth rate at 6% per annum to support the attainment of the objectives of VISION 2020.

Increasing access to medium and long term capital at affordable and sustainable interest rates with emphasis on poor farmers

Increasing merchandise exports, particularly non-traditional agricultural exports

Attracting private investment into the sector.

Agricultural services sub-sector investment program:

Agricultural services sub-sector Investment Program is the main instrument for the implementation of the Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Development Strategy (AgSSIP). The purpose of AgSSIP is to help to reduce poverty and to improve food security by providing essential services and securing and enabling an environment for sustainable and equitable growth. The AgSSIP is a three to five year rolling plan divided into four thematic groups of sub-programs and projects: Agricultural Support Service, Institutional and Regulatory Improvement and Capacity Building, Public Infrastructure and Improved Access to Markets and Development of Agricultural Business Sector. The successful implementation of this project will introduce efficiency in the agricultural sector, which will minimize the expansion of farmlands.

1.4.6 Mining in Forest Reserves

In the past, mining operations in the forest reserves were restricted and the few that were allowed operated under strict operational guidelines, which regulated the exploration activities. However since the launching of the economic recovery program certain international gold mining companies were granted permit to carry out mineral exploration within Forest Reserves.

Following persistent public outcry, and arising out of the growing concern for the depletion of Forest Reserves and degradation of the mining environment, the Ministry placed a ban on mineral operations in Forest Reserves in 1996. However, it was recognized that some companies had reached advanced stage of exploration, spent substantial sums of money in investment and had not contravened any of the terms of the permit under which they were operating. It was therefore agreed that 16 companies would be allowed to continue exploration. Later, in 1997, a policy decision was arrived that at 2% of the production areas of the Forest Reserves exploration activities would be made available. Guidelines for mining in forest Reserves have since been drafted and implemented.

Aside the large-scale mining a lot of illegal mining activities are now taking place in closed mining areas. These illegal mining activities are uncontrolled and are not allowing the forest to regain from its intensive mining shock. The situation has further degraded the lands in these areas.


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