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.
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.
Many forest enterprises operating in Ghana are of the small and medium type and most do not function along any formalised system of production. Their ad hoc nature of operation means that there is no inbuilt system within these organisations that offers in-service training and knowledge pertaining to their trade to both employers and employees alike. Hence, most of them are not well informed on issues such as the Forest law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), its action plan: the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and the Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) and other legal issues governing the forestry industry.
Supply of illegal timber to the domestic market has become one of the main forest governance issues in Ghana today. Although outlawed in 1998, illegal chainsaw milling (CSM) has become the major supplier (about 84%) of timber to the domestic market. Discussions on chainsaw milling have become an important part of the EU-Ghana Voluntary Partnership Agreement since the country cannot fully meet the legality assurance aspect of the agreement without adequately addressing supply of illegal timber to the domestic market.