Why Deforestation is Deepening in Ghana

…Farmers Dissatisfied With Tree Tenure & Benefit Sharing

It has come to light that farmers and land owners in Ghana are dissatisfied with existing benefit sharing arrangement with regards to tree tenure and benefit sharing. As a result, farmers prefer to kill-off naturally occurring trees than nurture them on their farms.

This practice according to Friends of the Earth Ghana (FoE-Ghana), a pro-environment advocacy outfit has contributed to deforestation within agricultural land, especially in cocoa landscape and areas.

Available information indicates that tree tenure relates to the ownership and use rights of trees or terms and conditions in which trees are held and used.

The worrying state of tree tenure and benefit sharing came to light when FoE-Ghana, held a sensitization workshop for Journalists on tree tenure and benefit sharing in Ghana. It said the general principles in benefit sharing schemes are that they should be effective, efficient and equitable.

Obed Owusu-Addai, a campaigner at Ecocare Ghana, said land and tree tenure has for a long time not been mutually exclusive, stressing that in recent times due to diversity of benefits and complications associated with land administration, tree tenure has been delineated from land ownership.

According to him, until 1962, when the Concessions Act was passed, trees were vested in land ownership. Owusu-Addai said in effect if you owned the land that had trees, you were the defacto owner of the trees.

This situation, GhanaNewsOnline.com.gh has established has existed since 1948 when the then Forestry Department developed its forest policy. This, Mr. Owusu-Addai said has also been compounded by very “bad laws” or luck of it that allows farmers to destroy trees for agricultural purposes without any consequences.

Through a lot of advocacy and research, government, he stated, finally agreed to take a second look at this in the 2012 forest and wildlife policy. A consultant, he mentioned was hired to go round the country and identify existing practices and proposes ways of remedying the existing situation.

Concurrently, Civil Society Organizations, Mr. Owusu-Addai opined were also undertaking consultations with communities, land owners, farmers and other stakeholders on way forward. The consultation according to him culminated into the new proposals being put forward by Government.

On benefit sharing arrangements as it relates to trees, he said, benefits within the forestry term are the forest revenue that accrues essentially from the sales of inherent forest goods and services.

By this principle, there are two main sources of forest revenue. That is forest goods. It encompasses timber and non-timber forest products. The other is services. Its example includes carbon credit and payment for environmental services.

On forest benefits that accrue purely from trees, this reporter has gathered that benefits from trees (timber) are in the form of timber sales (stumpage fees) and timber right fees.

Source: Adovor Nutifafa





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