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?"


  1. People, I reproduce a debate on this very article as happening when I posted it on facebook:

    1. 08 September at 14:00. Samuel Otumfuo:
    My brother !!! It is not true that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs !!!!.The next generation would be worst off.

    2. 08 September at 14:00. Benji Apraku Gyampoh This seems 'harsh', Mr. Samuel Otumfuo. Is this the real situation. I don't seem to agree totally with you.

    3. 08 September at 14:19. Ernest Seyire:
    Greed,selfishness,and who you know is the cause the laws are gud it is left with implementation

    4. 08 September at 14:49. •Samuel Otumfuo:
    Well, I'm not surprised bcos most of my friends do not agree with me but if eg.the use of light in fishing or pair trawling is depleting our fisheries stock and efforts are made to curb the practice,do we have to play politics with such an important issue ?

    5. 08 September at 15:05 Benji Apraku Gyampoh
    Mr Samuel Otumfuo, I agree with you to some extent. But I do not agree with you that we are incapable of managing our own affairs. I'm black and I am managing my own affairs, same with you; and I think we are doing pretty well. We have not been able to attract the right leadership for our countries because the majority of us are not yet up to scratch with the major issues of leadership. It's not about lies, propaganda, ethnicity, religion, hypocrisy and others. Ernest Seyire, my bro, it's true we have somehow good laws but implementation is poor. And that is also because some of those laws were "lifted", to some extent from some jurisdictions that had made some extra provisions to make implementation easy. But though we had not made such provisions, we decided to make similar laws and wished that they will work like other places.

    6.08 September at 15:57. Douglas Joseph La Rose: I, for one, am shocked that anyone would mention "race" in relation to natural resource management issues. First of all, "race" doesn't even exist and is a cultural construct. Second of all, "non-black" people - if you want to describe them that way - have both provided the demand and the tools necessary to destroy first their own resources and then those of the global South.

    7.08 September at 15:57 Douglas Joseph La Rose: The degradation of fisheries, by the way, is a worldwide problem - it is not only a sub-Saharan African problem.

    8. 08 September at 15:57. Ernest Seyire
    Am happy you are much concern about our environment but our big men and some folks dont care so far as their pockets are full where i live every evening truck loads of chain saw lumber is transported to ACCRA everyday with the support of law enforcement agencies who are paid with tax payers money to protect the forest

  2. 9.08 September at 16:28 Douglas Joseph La Rose People are willing to look the other way while their MPs take bribes to give away their resources, sure. Ghana's political system has a lot of things against it, first and foremost that people are not educated enough to know how democracy and civil society is supposed to operate. But this is not a race issue, it is an underdevelopment issue. Also, we need to be less sensitive about certain issues that do have an impact on Ghanaian politics. Ethnicity and power have an impact on who benefits and who doesn't. More relevant to this issue, ethnicity and regionalism (which are connected) mean that some areas will be both neglected and exploited, such as where I live in the Volta Region. This place is being deforested at alarming rates.

    10.08 September at 16:50 Benji Apraku Gyampoh: Folks, consider The Concessions Act 1962 – Act 124, which prohibited the creating of forest reserves by local governments; and 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. What is right and wrong with this law? I have given brief reviews of other laws on the blog, where did they go wrong? I would like you to come back to the issue at stake now.

    11.08 September at 17:08 Douglas Joseph La Rose: Implementation is the problem. Acts have no value without implementation. If power isn't actual and enforceable than it has no value. From what I have seen, there are no whistleblowers and uncorruptable forces in Ghanaian civil society, so what does it matter what an Act says?

    12.08 September Ernest Seyire:
    Too much power is vested in the presidency i think it is time we leave natural resources for the local people to care for since the will be the direct beneficiaries

    13.Douglas Joseph La Rose:
    But local people need to be advised about the consequences of selling off natural resources. There are many case studies where forests were handed over to Native Americans and they turned and sold them outright (for clearcutting). Some level of national policy is necessary, but it has to be an uncorruptable, well-paid watchdog group who is wiling to prosecute at all levels.

    14. Samuel Otumfuo:
    Douglas,don't be shocked !!! the mention of the ' black man 'was in a certain context and u will come to appreciate that fact in the near future.Go to Korea and u will understand what I'm talking about.In our system whiles frantic efforts are being made by some people to implement the laws,others care less about it and they even call u names.I'm not talking about ordinary people but those who claim they are educated and shd have known better.With time I will site instances compelling me to mention the black man.We are talking about mgt and mentality.If the degradation of the fisheries resource is world wide,I can tell u that they are better managed elsewhere than in Africa.Let us call spade a spade and not a big spoon !!!.

    15. Winston A Asante:
    Good question. watch out for a study commissioned by USAID to find reasons for ur question.

    16. Douglas Joseph La Rose Reasons for the question or answers to the question?

    17. Winston A Asante both. reasons for the question are as equally important as answers to the question, I don't think they are mutually exclusive in this context. But basically the study seeks to find out the role of policy and legislation in the current state of our nat. res.

    18. Douglas Joseph La Rose:
    From a theoretical standpoint, I can't agree at all with that. The reason for the question would be to answer it, or? And to understand the role of policy is not to understand the effectiveness of policy. I understand why there are laws against murder, but knowing why and how people still kill is another question. One is legal and political, the other social and psychological.

  3. 19. Douglas Joseph La Rose
    I'd like the make a second, more important point. In some ways, it speaks to the benefit of your point, not mine. Don't you think it is at all sad that Ghana needs USAID to fund research concerning the ineffectiveness of Ghana's laws? If the government isn't serious about figuring this out for itself, what kind of impact is a US-funded research project going to have? None, I would presume. This goes back to the "dead aid" theory. I would imagine that very soon, given the global economic crisis, these kinds of research projects won’t be funded anymore. And perhaps it will be for the better. By now you should at the very least have woodlots that are selectively harvested and planted in succession for yearly harvests. This curbed all deforestation in the United States. In a country the size of a small U.S state, doesn’t it alarm you that you can’t get this crisis under control? I imagine that the answer to the problem of implementation is quite simple and doesn’t require a multi-thousand-dollar research project – corruption, short-sightedness, apathy, and complacence. I feel that the oil curse is soon going to descend on Ghana for these very reasons. Once you stop getting paid to figure out why your laws don’t work, someone will step in and pay you not to care. The days of generous U.S funding are over, now its time for China to shower you with their curses. So yes, the reasons – nay, justifications – for the questions are indeed important to understand. As for the answers, well I guess we already know them.

    Douglas Joseph La Rose
    "the role of policy and legislation in the current state of our nat. res." If you really wanted to answer this question, you wouldn't be allowed to. The system is rotted from bottom to top, from the farmer who sells his Ceiba tree for 10 cedis to the politician who pawns it off to a Lebanese timber exporter; from the young man who labors in strip mines with cyanide, to the Chinese companies do it while law enforcement looks the other way.

  4. Douglas Joseph La Rose:
    The point of those examples being, of course, that corruption prevents any kind of policy from being effective. And it's easy for people to say "politicians are corrupt," but once you start mentioning names you'll be silenced by either force or economic incentive. If it's a sex scandal it'll be all over the papers, but ostentatious and obvious corruption go by unmentioned. No one wants to anger their local representative, because maybe in the future their big daddy will come home with some cake to share, and you wouldn't want to be the one to accuse honorable of taking bribes from the Chinese, would you? Of course not, because you want a piece of the cake too! There are far too many incentives against whistleblowing to make such an endeavor serious. Ironically, the only real solution to such a problem would be to bring in outsiders, which USAID doesn't typically hire because it wants to "empower locals."

    Winston A Asante:
    Douglas, I think this platform is too cumbersome for me to engage u and ur opinions on this matter, am sure we shall one day have a better opportunity to engage each other, so I will only deal with the substantive issue. But I will like to say, if you understand the system so well, then take a step back and holistically examine natural resources governance, then u will understand the driving forces quite well. For now I think u r too passionate and simplistic. If u step back and look at the issues with a much broader perspective, then u will understand how wrong u are to even accuse a poor farmer of corruption, for selling ceiba for 10 cedis, and please, try and decouple morality from legality in this issue, u can't continue to mix them all up.Now as to the fact that u don't agree with me theoretically, my response is simple, have u ever wondered why there is the ideal gas equation and the real gas equation? on the issue of USAID funding the research, I think u r being pre-emptive here, I made a simple statement and all u could do is to ask for further details, rather than showing a rather distasteful disrespect for the government. Do u know how the study originated? Do u know the terms for funding, plus u r right, the US is too smart to just throw money away, which shd have informed u that "Big Daddy US" will surely hav its interests served before being involved. And pls take caution not to go down the path of "foreigners" who think they know the system too well, yet they show total ignorance of basic facts. I have seen some embarrass themselves in conferences, becos they failed to appreciate the concept of resource governance and historical trajectory in Ghana. Natural resources governance is complex in Ghana, it takes it roots deep in colonialism and colonial machination

    Winston A Asante
    Don't u also think in evaluating roles, u can arrive at effectiveness?

  5. Just went back and read through this again. I said some things here that I regret. I must have been going through a phase of deep cynicism when I wrote some of this. Still, I believe there should be a moratorium on the cutting of all native tree species and sustainable wood lots should replace exporting native forests.

  6. Just went back and read through this again. I said some things here that I regret. I must have been going through a phase of deep cynicism when I wrote some of this. Still, I believe there should be a moratorium on the cutting of all native tree species and sustainable wood lots should replace exporting native forests.

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