Nota di Lavoro, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei 29.2005
This paper presents an empirical analysis of the linkage between external timber trade in Ghana and the increased incidence of illegal chainsaw operations which do not only threaten the countrys forests and other natural resources but also the erosion of the basis for sustainable agriculture which is the main-stay of the countrys economy. It uses ethnographic data from case studies of a recent research in selected forest reserves fringe communities in High Forest Zone of the country to explain the frustrations of local people with government policies that favour export to the neglect of local demand for timber and wood products. Although government pronouncements suggest that it is gaining an upper hand in the battle against illegal logging operations, evidence on the ground suggests that the greater part of the lumber on the local markets is supplied through illegal means predominated by itinerant chainsaw operators and their urban financiers. The paper concludes that the countrys forest and tree resources face massive degradation and overexploitation if the government does not take a bold decision on illegal logging, especially the activities of chainsaw operators. An option, though unpalatable and politically sensitive, may be the mainstreaming of chainsaw operations through the re-introduction of limited permits to registered local groups of timber traders and their chainsaw operators to supply the domestic market. This should be under a system which enjoins such groups to be collectively responsible for the activities of their members. And, the government should also strengthen the Forestry Services Division (FSD) to design and operationalize an enhanced monitoring and surveillance system of logging activities.
Economic recovery program (ERP) Timber exportation Illegal chainsaw operation Timber traders High forest zone Forestry services division (FSD)