In West Africa, Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) - Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) have become main drivers for reforms in forest governance and land-use. Despite progress, considerable challenges have also characterized the evolution of the process. Together with other partners, Tropenbos International is implementing the project “Strengthening the capacity of Non-State Actors to improve FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa” to tackle these challenges, better position Non-State Actors (NSAs), increase their participation in both FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes.
The Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA) programme will support Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to promote inclusive and sustainable governance of forested landscapes as well as the restoration of degraded landscapes by influencing governmental and corporate policies and practices. This strategy is based on the conviction that well-governed forest landscapes will benefit local people; enhancing their economic and social development while reducing deforestation.
Forest fringe communities in Ghana were left out of an important decision making processes concerning the forest in the past due to a colonial legacy that saw the allocation of vast tracts of forests to central government which exerted exclusive rights over their control and utilisation. This is because, the main interest of colonial forest policies were geared towards the exploitation of timber for the overseas market rather than the involvement of forest communities in the management of forests under a benefit sharing agreement.
Evidence abounds that Ghana has suffered rapid deforestation over the years. The country’s landscape spots large tracts of degraded forests, a situation that has aggravated droughts and bushfires and promoted desertification, with the resultant loss of forest dependent livelihoods leading to the impoverishment of forest fringe communities.
Charcoal is an important source of energy in Ghana and constitutes a major source of livelihood for people in rural areas endowed with woodlands suitable for charcoal production. Its production is predominant in the northern and transitional zones of Ghana and serves as the primary and secondary energy sources for most Ghanaians. It is readily available and can be purchased in small quantities. With this, the annual consumption of charcoal is estimated to increase rapidly in the coming decade. Taxes and levies on the charcoal trade are important sources of revenue for District Assemblies and traditional authorities (chiefs) in production areas.