Thursday, September 1, 2011
Some Forest Legislation after Independence till 1999
Going through legislation has been a difficult thing and this has resulted in the long break. Finally, I am back! This time we will sample some of the laws that were passed in the forest sector after independence. Let's focus on those that came into being from 1957 to 1999
The Forests Amendment Act, 1957
This is a further amendment to Cap 157 (The Forest Ordinance, 1927) after independence. The amendment of the principal Act concerns regulation making powers of the Governor in Council and the extension of that power so as to apply regulations to areas constituted as Forest Reserves by by-laws made by the appropriate local authority. In the case of conflict between local by-laws and a regulation, the provisions of the regulation shall prevail.
The Forest Protection Decree, 1974 (NRCD 243)
NRCD 243 declared any specified damaging of trees, cultivation, creating fires, obstructing of water flows, hunting or fishing or grazing or trespassing of cattle in a Forest Reserve without a written permission of the competent forest authority to be an offence. This decree mainly replaced the offence creating sessions of the Cap 157 and, for the first time, took a serious look at persistent offenders and forest officers who took part in forest offences by conniving with law breakers. Under this decree, persistent offenders were banned from engaging in timber business and forest officers found culpable were summarily dismissed. Duties and powers of Forest Officers were specified. The NRCD 243 was a major step to ensure a strict protection of Ghana’s forest.
The Concessions Act 1962 – Act 124
The Concessions Act 1962 – Act 124, prohibited the creating of forest reserves by local governments; it removed the role of courts in granting timber concession and transferred that role to a Minister of State, and vested all timber rights in the president acting as a trustee for the owners. This law was deemed appropriate by the government of that time when it wanted to control the commanding heights of the economy.
The Trees and Timber Decree, 1974 (NRCD 273)
This decree aimed at protecting trees and timber and regulating their cutting, transportation and export. It required timber merchants to register property marks with the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests. The timber merchants were required to mark the stump of each tree they felled and the logs with their unique registered property marks. Areas outside forest reserves but having a good stocking of timber were declared temporarily protected areas until the timber was harvested.
Forestry Commission Act, 1980 - Act 405
This Act provides for the establishment of the Ghana Forestry Commission. The functions of the Ghana Timber Marketing Board, the Forest Products Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Forestry Department and the Department of Game and Wildlife shall be exercised under the supervision of the Commission.
The Trees and Timber (Amendment) Act, 1994 – Act 493
This Act to amended the Trees and Timber Decree, 1974 (N.R.C.D.273). This act placed punitive levies on the export of certain timber species in log form and on the export air-dried lumber. This law aimed at encouraging the development of the local timber industry through processing of the harvested logs beyond the saw-milling stage. It was expected to add value to the logs before export and also to create employment. In effect, this Act supports the objective 2 of the 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy.
The Timber Resource Management Act, 1997 - Act 547
This Act streamlined the process for granting rights to harvest trees and extract timber (timber rights) to ensure the sustainable management and utilization of timber resources. The act is intended to contribute to achieving the conservation and sustainable development of the nation’s forest resources, as indicated in the aim of the 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy. In the act, harvesting timber without obtaining a Timber Utilization Contract (TUC) was made an offence. Going contrary to this provision attracts a fine of 1000% of the timber or imprisonment for 6 months to 2 years, and confiscation of the timber, tools, equipment and machinery.
Timber Resources Management Regulations, 1998 - L.I. 1649
This Legislative Instrument follows the Act 547 and provides rules and regulations to guide the implementation of Act 547. Under the Act 547, the contract holder enters into a contract with the Government to utilize and manage the timber resource on stated Terms and Conditions.
The Forestry Commission Act, 1999 - Act 571
This is an ACT to re-establish the Forestry Commission in order to bring under the Commission the main public bodies and agencies implementing the functions of protection, development, management and regulation of forests and wildlife resources and to provide for related matters. The Commission is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name. The re-established Forestry Commission is responsible for the regulation of the utilization of forest and wildlife resources, the conservation and management of those resources and the co-ordination of policies related to them.
So Ghana's forest sector has not lacked regulations! Then, the question is, "how has these legislation impacted on our forest resources?"