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Hindawi International Journal of Forestry Research Volume 2020, Article ID 8865936, 14 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8865936 Research Article Forest Management Regimes and Drivers of Forest Cover Loss in Forest Reserves in the High Forest Zone of Ghana 1,2 2 2 2 Frank Ankomah , Boateng Kyereh , Michael Ansong , and Winston Asante Timber Validation Department, Forestry Commission, Accra, Ghana Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana Correspondence should be addressed to Frank Ankomah; email@example.com Received 22 April 2020; Revised 30 October 2020; Accepted 5 November 2020; Published 24 November 2020 Academic Editor: Manoj Kumar Solanki Copyright © 2020 Frank Ankomah et al. *is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Forest cover loss, particularly those arising from deforestation and forest degradation, is largely driven by human activities and has attracted global attention over the decades. Globally, countries have adopted strategies to manage and conserve forests in response to these human disturbances. Ghana’s strategy to ensure sustainable management of the forest and its estate was to zone the forest into management regimes based on the resource availability and the object of managing those particular areas. Whilst forest degradation and its drivers and actors have been widely reported in Ghana, it is not known how forest management regimes inﬂuence these issues. Focusing on four forest reserves in the high forest zone of Ghana, this paper used interviews of key forest stakeholders, analysis of Forestry Commission ﬁeld reports, and ﬁeld veriﬁcation to demonstrate the eﬀect of forest management regimes on drivers of forest degradation. A combination of many proximate and underlying factors was observed to drive degradation in a synergetic way. *e main drivers which were identiﬁed and their corresponding actors varied and manifested diﬀerently across management regimes. *e strive by forest landowners to earn revenue from the protected forest, perceived unfair payment of ground rents for protected areas by Timber Utilization Contract holders, poor forest management practices on the part of forestry personnel, nondeterrent penalties, poor forest monitoring, the granting of compartment re-entry permits to harvest residual yield, overdependence on few species, weak enforcement of forest regulations, and perceived corruption on the part of forestry oﬃcials were the major underlying factors that impact on how the drivers manifested in various regimes. Our study reveals that the primary forest stakeholders of the country are the main actors of forest degradation and have developed various means convenient for speciﬁc regimes that enable them to beneﬁt from the forest at the expense of conservation. loss of forest cover is estimated at 2% with forest degradation 1. Introduction generally acknowledged as more prevalent as compared to Forest cover loss, particularly those arising from defores- deforestation. *is trend of forest loss poses a signiﬁcant tation and forest degradation, is largely driven by human threat to the livelihoods of forest fringe communities as well activities and has attracted global attention over the decades. as ecosystem services and functionality that support the Apart from contributing to biodiversity loss, forest loss agrarian economy in countries such as Ghana . drives global climate change  as removal or degradation of Globally, countries have adopted strategies to manage forest is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) and conserve forests in response to these human distur- emissions. In the Brazilian Amazon forest, for example, bances. Parties to the United Nations Framework Con- degradation is responsible for about 20% of total emissions vention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have developed a . Unfortunately, forest loss through deforestation and mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation is increasing globally, with the annual rate of forest degradation through the enhancement of forest car- forest degradation in Africa, for instance, being almost 50% bon stocks, sustainable forest management, and conserva- of the annual rate of forest loss . In Ghana, the net annual tion of forests (REDD+) in developing non-Annex I 2 International Journal of Forestry Research that forest protection in priority areas, such as biodiversity countries . *e issue of identifying drivers and activities causing forest carbon change on the national level for REDD+ hotspots, high elevations, steep slopes, and far from roads and cities, is considered better managed and likely to impact monitoring and implementation has received increasing at- tention in the REDD+ debate in addition to the discussion on positively on forest cover loss [12, 13]. In addition, the way policy incentives and modalities for measurements, reporting drivers of forest cover loss manifest in diﬀerent regimes may and veriﬁcation (MRV) [5, 6]. *e UNFCCC negotiations [5, 7] be diﬀerent likewise the underlying causes inﬂuencing these have encouraged developing countries to identify land use, land drivers. *is calls for more robust, cross-ecological studies use change, and forestry activities, with particular emphasis on that examine the relationships between management re- those that are linked to the drivers of deforestation and forest gimes and conservation outcomes [14–16]. Unfortunately, forest reserve management regime level degradation, and to assess their potential contribution to the mitigation of climate change. It is therefore important to information on drivers and activities causing deforestation and forest degradation is limited. For international mech- understand not only how much forests are changing but also how to deﬁne proper policies that are of relevance at the forest anisms such as REDD+ to be eﬀective, there is the need to understand developments in various forest management reserve management level and at the national strategic planning level [8, 9]. regimes across various ecological zones so as to tailor ap- Ghana’s strategy to ensure sustainable management of propriate strategies in addressing them. Also, it is imperative the forest and its estate was to zone the forest into man- to understand how forest management regimes (protection, agement regimes (protection, production or selection, and production, GSBA, etc.) inﬂuence the kind of drivers or how conversion working circles) based on the resource avail- these drivers diﬀer within various management regimes. *e ability and the object of managing those particular areas. *e current paper therefore aims to demonstrate how diﬀerent forest management regimes bring diﬀerent perspectives to protection working circles, which are for maintaining the environment, are normally under hill sanctuaries, swamps, the meaning of forest cover loss and its drivers of change. It is anticipated that the ﬁndings of this study will help policy shelterbelts, and ﬁre protection areas. *ese areas, according to , occupied 352,500 ha, of which 69% is inaccessible for makers to design and implement policies, program, and projects that are tailored at addressing the challenges of logging, 16% is degraded, and 15% is well stocked and accessible. *e convalescence areas, which currently cover deforestation and forest degradation to ensure sustainable 122,000 ha, are those areas with reduced stocking through forest management (SFM) and environmental sustainability. overexploitation, ﬁre, and poor management, but are con- sidered capable of rehabilitation within one felling cycle (40 2. Materials and Methods years). *e production working circles cover an area of 2.1. Study Areas. *e study was conducted in four forest 762,600 ha  and are areas rich in timber and to be logged reserves located within four ecological zones in Ghana, in a sustainable manner using selective or reduced impact namely, Fure River (Wet Evergreen) (WE), Bia North logging practices. *e conversion areas account for Tributaries (Moist Semideciduous Northwest) (MSNW), 127,200 ha (8%). *ey are areas that require planting, and and Tano-Oﬃn (Upland Evergreen) (UE). *e Forest Ser- the areas that were not inventoried occupied 270,000 ha vices Division (FSD) manages these three reserves, whilst Bia (17%). For eﬀective management of Ghana’s ﬂora and fauna, South Tributaries (Moist Evergreen) (ME), a wildlife pro- areas of biodiversity hotspots have been further earmarked tected reserve, is managed by the Wildlife Division (WD) of as Globally Signiﬁcant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs). Not- the Forestry Commission. *e study area is presented in withstanding these categorizations, a forest reserve can have Figure 1 with the detailed areas shown in Table 1. all these working circles in it. A working circle is a forest area *e study forest reserves (FRs) were demarcated and put that is under a single system of forest management. under gazette between 1936 and 1940 and have since been Although these regimes have diﬀerent strategies and managed as part of the forest and wildlife reserve network of principles of management geared towards ensuring sus- the country. *ese FRs were selected because they possess tainable forest and wildlife management, yet in Ghana, loss multiple regimes thus making comparisons at the regime level of forest continues at an alarming rate of 2% per annum . simple by avoiding the need to take account of diﬀerences in Since deforestation and forest degradation are driven by biophysical factors between regimes being compared. human interactions and are closely linked to the forest management regimes, to get a better understanding of how these occur, it is better to look at them from the regime 2.2. Data Collection perspective in order to provide more insight at the man- agement regime level on how various drivers manifest across 2.2.1. Determination of How Drivers Manifest in Diﬀerent regimes to impact on forest cover loss. In Ghana’s case, for Management Regimes in the Forest Reserves. To determine example, forests are spread throughout various ecological how drivers of land/forest cover change manifest in various zones and are managed by people with varying compe- management regimes (protection, GSBA, and production), a tencies, intents, and interest, so their level of exercising desk study was conducted at the Regional and District professional discretion may vary from one manager to Forestry Oﬃces to review from their archives essential another, and these are likely to aﬀect their professional working documents spanning a 10-year period from 2009 to judgment which may have the consequences of inﬂuencing 2019 after consent, and oﬃcial permit had been obtained forest cover loss. Also, information from elsewhere indicates from the Forestry Commission. Oﬃcial documents such as International Journal of Forestry Research 3 2°0’0”W 0’0’0” Upper East Upper West North East Northern Savannah OTI Brong Bono East Ahafo Bia North Tano Oﬁn (MSNW) Ahafo (UE) Ashanti Volta Eastern Bia South (ME) Study area Western Fure River Greater Regional boundary (WE) North Central Accra Lake Volta Western Sea 0 25 50 100 150 200 Gulf of guines Km 2°0’0”W 0’0’0” Figure 1: Map of study area. *e selected reserves are coloured green. Table 1: Study areas and their management regimes. Forest reserve Area (km ) Ecological zone Management regimes Management responsibility Fure River 158.23 WE Protection, production, GSBA FSD Bia North 356.2 MSNW Protection, production FSD Tano-Oﬃn 413.92 UE Protection, production, GSBA FSD Bia South 306 ME Protection WD Ecological zones as identiﬁed by Hall and Swaine . reserve management plans, oﬀence reports, quarterly and operators, Forestry Commission and their subsidiary divi- monthly report ﬁles, permit ﬁles, harvesting reports, and any sions, Forest Services Division (FSD), Resource Manage- other report of interest were reviewed to show historical ment Support Centre (RMSC), and Wildlife Division (WD). antecedent (frequency of occurrence of the drivers and extent Details of the respondents are presented in Table 2. *e of coverage) of the areas under study. Additionally, existing study focused on the most important actors in the entire literature and academic write-ups were reviewed to obtain a forest supply chain who are into either management or harvesting and milling of trees. It also covered members of broader understanding on the dynamics of the drivers of forest degradation. Field veriﬁcation was also undertaken in forest fringe communities some of whom had admitted farms in the reserves. Overall, 100 respondents spread across all the study areas to observe the physical evidence of oc- currence of these drivers in the forest. the study areas were interviewed. *e number was chosen To understand the drivers of change and how they because the issues that were interrogated were very technical manifest in various regimes, views from experts and forest and sensitive and therefore required a sizeable number that fringe communities were solicited through interviews and could be well managed to guard against the possibility of the focus group discussions. results being adulterated by people who could provide data Respondents were drawn from Ghana Timber Millers without understanding and appreciating the issues involved. Organization (GTMO), Ghana Timber Association (GTA), In addition, one focus group discussion involving forest Timber Utilization Contract (TUC) holders, chainsaw fringe communities was held for each of the four forest 6’0’0”N 8’0’0”N 10’00”N 6’0’0”N 8’0’0”N 10’00”N 4 International Journal of Forestry Research Table 2: Category of respondents and the roles their institutions play in forest management and utilization. No. of Stakeholder group Institutional roles respondents Ghana Timber Millers *is is a trade organization subscribed by timber processing companies in Ghana. *ey Organization strive to improve on the standard of timber products for both local and export markets. Private entity that coordinates all activities of loggers in Ghana and helps the Ghana Timber Association 5 government to promulgate laws aﬀecting logging in Ghana. Timber Utilization Contract Companies granted timber harvesting rights by the government of Ghana following (TUC) holders competitive bidding. Public sector agency which is a division under the Forestry Commission (FC) mandated Forest Services Division (FSD) 15 to protect, develop, and manage forests in Ghana. Public sector agency which is a division under the Forestry Commission (FC) mandated Wildlife Division 10 for the protection and conservation of wildlife resources within protected areas in Ghana. *is is a technical wing of the Forestry Commission (FC) responsible for the Resource Management exploration, development, facilitation, institutionalization, implementation, and Support Centre monitoring of eﬀective and aﬀordable forest and wildlife management systems in Ghana. *ey are the custodians of lands and the main opinion leaders in communities where Traditional authorities 5 forest reserves are located. *ey involve residents of the forest fringe communities. Active members involved in Community members 25 community participation in forest management activities were interviewed. *ey are private individuals who use fuel-powered chainsaw machines for harvesting Chainsaw millers 20 timber species and converting the logs in situ into lumber. reserves studied. *is group of people was selected from the underlying drivers and their manifestation in various community opinion leaders, admitted farm owners, management regimes. chainsaw operators, migrant settlers/farmers, and commu- *e study observed that the highest number of un- nity youth members who have been providing services as derlying drivers of forest degradation was recorded for carriers and loaders of chainsaw lumber. *is stratiﬁcation illegal logging with the least recorded for illegal farming. It was designed in order to reﬂect various roles played by these was also revealed that some of these underlying drivers actors and to solicit their opinion on all shades of issues. were unique to certain management regimes, while others were similar across regimes (Figure 2). For instance, lack of revenue (timber royalties) to stool landowners, low pres- 2.3. Data Analysis. In analysing admitted farm extension, ence of Forestry Commission staﬀ in protected areas, and percentage deviation from the originally allocated farm was perceived unfair payment of ground rent for protected determined, whilst a paired t-test was also performed to areas by TUC holders were underlying drivers of illegal determine whether farm extensions were signiﬁcant to cause logging that were unique to the GSBAs and protection changes in forest cover. Mauchly’s test was used to test if the regimes. *e grant of compartment re-entry permits to assumption of sphericity had not been violated . Data harvest residual yield and weak enforcement of forest collected from the desk study were summarized and pre- regulations by Forestry Commission staﬀ were unique sented as statements. Using Microsoft Excel, administered drivers of illegal logging that were observed in the pro- questionnaires were analysed through calculations of per- duction management regime (Figure 2). centages. *e qualitative data from the key informant in- Similarly, though these proximate drivers of forest terviews and the focus group discussions were analysed degradation appear similar across regimes, some of them using content analysis , involving convergence, or also manifested diﬀerently as shown in Figure 3. agreement of respondents on issues and concerns on how *e ﬁndings from the study revealed that illegal logging the drivers of forest cover change manifested in various and illegal mining were the most intriguing proximate management regimes of the forest reserves. drivers of forest degradation as they manifested diﬀerently in diﬀerent regimes with various actors playing several roles to induce forest degradation. How each proximate 3. Results driver manifested in a speciﬁc regime is detailed in the For the presentation of results, the regimes are grouped as (1) following. GSBAs and other protection regimes and (2) production regime. Generally, the proximate causes of forest degrada- tion the study observed were illegal logging, illegal farming, 3.1. Illegal Logging as a Driver of Forest Cover Change. wildﬁres, and illegal mining. *ese drivers of forest cover Illegal logging is unauthorized removal or harvesting of trees change manifested variously in diﬀerent management re- in contravention of current forest laws. From the data, it was gimes and were triggered by a variety of underlying factors. evident that illegal logging has several actors and manifests Figures 2 and 3 present a summarized account of the itself in diverse ways in diﬀerent regimes considered. International Journal of Forestry Research 5 Illegal logging Illegal mining Wildﬁre (1) e grant of compartment reentry permits (1) Poor management decision (1) Poor forest monitoring to harvest residual yield (2) Overdependence on species (2) Political pressure (2) Lack of control over forest users (3) Inadequate protection measures by both (3) Weak enforcement of forest regulations (3) Absence of a ﬁre management plane the mining lease holders and the FC (4) Lack of collaboration among major (4) Poor monitoring of forest operations (4) Weak law enforcement stakeholders (5) Low presence of FSD staﬀ in locality (5) Lower penalties (5) Inadequate community sensitization (6) Corruption on the part of the FC Illegal farming (7) Lack of revenue (timeber royalties) to stool (1) Poor Stakeholder consultation landowners (8) Perceived unfair payment of ground rents (2) Poor Supervision from staﬀ of the FC for protected areas by TUC holders (9) Poor forest management practices by the (3) Weak law enforcement FC (10) Nondeterrent penalties (4) Lower penalties GSBS/protection only Production only Production and GSBS/protection Figure 2: Underlying drivers of forest degradation in various management regimes. 3.1.1. Illegal Logging in GSBAs and Other Protection Man- boundaries. Within the monitoring period, 13 cases of agement Regimes and Its Main Actors. We found that illegal trespassing were reported in the GSBAs and 18 within the logging was spread throughout the GSBAs and protection protected areas that share common boundary with pro- management regimes and manifested in four main ways duction compartments. with each having speciﬁc actors. *e third form of illegal logging which was corroborated *e ﬁrst form of illegal logging commonly found was in by 85% of respondents from the expert group occurred when situ chainsaw milling. *is is where chainsaw operators permits were issued to loggers’/TUC holders to evacuate move into the forest either with or without the support of abandoned logs by chainsaw millers who, after felling trees and due to fear of being arrested, abandoned them in the landowners and community members to fell and mill timber. *is was common as 68 cases of this type of logging forest. Taking advantage of their entry into the forest, the permit-holding loggers then remove standing trees contrary were reported at the GSBA in the Tano-Oﬃn FR at the forest district oﬃce between 2010 and 2014. *e second occurred to stipulations of the permit. In one of the study areas, illegal where TUC holders and other timber contractors with logging in a protected area was allegedly started by unknown felling permits working in timber production compartments chainsaw operators who felled 11 trees. *e district manager stray into adjoining GSBAs to illegally fell trees, with or recommended for the trees to be evacuated on permits to without the connivance of other actors such as landowners avoid their economic wastage, but a company permitted to and FSD staﬀ. *is trespassing according to respondents and carry out the evacuation stayed in the protection zone for conﬁrmed by oﬃcial records on ﬁle is attributed to unclear more than 3 months while evacuating the 11 trees, and the delineation of the forest compartments and internal regime permit was renewed thrice as a result of alleged breakdown 6 International Journal of Forestry Research Illegal logging Illegal mining Wildﬁre (1) Fires originate from inside the forest (1) Felling of trees outside the allocated vield (1) Abuse of prospecting permits reserve by either admitted farmers or the timber operator (2) Large-scale operations, though the use (2) Fires from nearby farms outside the forest (2) Felling of threes outside the approved of heavy equipment reserve (3) Deliberate promotion of undersize trees (3) Conducted without authorization into a higher diameter class (4) Illegal logging by timber contractors (4) Small-scale operation with the use of who have no TUC or temporary smaller equipment felling permit (5) On-site conversion of timber to lumber Illegal farming (chainsaw milling) (6) Logging by TUC holder working adjoinig (1) Admitted farm extensions resulting from production foress or compartments release of abandoned farms (7) Logging by timber contractors issued with (2) Illegal farminig through abuse by temporary felling permits in production “taungya farmers” forests. (3) Clearing of forest land by people who are (8) Abandoned operations by chainsaw millers neither admitted farm owners nor aer felling trees due to fear of arrest permitted by the FC GSBS/protection only Production only Production and GSBS/protection Figure 3: Manifestation of drivers in various management regimes. of machinery. *e consequences of this action were that Lack of revenue ﬂow from GSBAs and other protected more trees were illegally felled and reported as new ones areas to landowners, which the study observed as a major being discovered because according to the contractor, they underlying cause, according to respondents from the FC, compels landowners to aid illegal operators by selling trees had been concealed under the forest canopy and he could not see them on previous occasions. *e area got opened up to them. *is was also conﬁrmed during the focus group discussion, and this is how a respondent who buys from as access roads were created and other illegal activities, especially chainsaw milling, expanded. *e fourth type of landowners expressed it: “Due to this revenue disparity be- illegal logging the study found in these regimes was carried tween production forests and GSBAs plus other protected out by loggers who had neither TUCs nor entry permits but areas, these communities especially their chiefs feel disgrun- they simply dashed into the reserves in a hit-and-run fashion tled. Consequently, chiefs and sometimes opinion leaders il- to steal trees with or without the connivance of landowners. legally sell trees to us (chainsaw operators, TUC holders *is was common in the Tano-Oﬃn FR where 14 of such working in adjoining compartments of production forests as incidences were recorded at the district. well as timber contractors who have neither TUCs nor felling From the interviews and review of oﬃcial documents, it permits)”. On the issue of ground rent, TUC holders interviewed was observed that about 60% of the oﬀences reported were triggered by chainsaw operators, whilst TUC holders and complained about how they are being made to pay for entire timber contractors were often cited for hiding behind the forest reserves (with both production and protection re- chainsaw operators in perpetuating this act of illegalities. gimes) when they are entitled to harvest only from pro- About 70% of respondents from the expert group agreed that duction compartments. Some of these TUC holders who pay landowners and FC staﬀ collaborate and aid the other actors ground rent for protected areas fell trees illegally to defray to illegally log in these regimes. their cost. Four of such cases were reported in 2017 at the Bia *ough illegal logging in this management regime is on North FR, and 80% of TUC holders interviewed conﬁrmed the decline according to FC respondents, it was found that the practice. *e oﬀence reports indicated that when such trees are felled, the TUC holder or contractor without TUCs economically rare and highly sought-after species were normally those felled from the regime. may either report the incident to the Forest Services Division International Journal of Forestry Research 7 65% of oﬀence reports reviewed revealed that one way in (FSD) as stolen and abandoned logs by an unknown agent or move logs without reporting to the FSD. Where a report is which this occurs is the swapping of allocated low-value species with unallocated high-value species or allocated low- made, FSD then sells logs to the TUC holder by issuing a permit to regularize the acquisition of the logs. However, quality trees with unallocated high-quality ones of the same 80% of TUC holders interviewed indicated that these species. *ese actors do so by scraping oﬀ the original stock temporary permits are often abused by felling additional numbers and replacing them with numbers of the preferred trees other than the approved ones, mostly with the con- trees. Similarly, stock numbers approved in the yield for nivance of FC oﬃcials. As stated before, 70% of respondents felling the lesser-known species are exchanged and used to from the traditional authorities and the fringe communities remove other species which are considered more valuable. For example, in the oﬀence report for Tano-Oﬃn and Bia claimed that TUC holders or timber contractors sometimes fell trees with the connivance of FC oﬃcials. About 80% of North FRs, the oﬀenders swapped yield numbers for Chrysophyllum albidum (akasaa) with Aningeria robusta TUC holders interviewed indicated that being aware of the risk associated with logging in a forest reserve, they mostly (asanﬁna). Concession holders without any reference to the yield can also fell trees. In this case, the contractor fells an connive with FSD oﬃcials by paying monies to them, whilst they in turn aid them to comfortably work in the forest and unapproved tree and conceals his action by burying the stump also allow them to use other company’s property mark to of the felled tree. Highly valuable species such as Milicia help them secure transportation documents to cover the excelsa (odum) and Tieghemela heckelii (makore) were cited products. *is assertion of connivance was conﬁrmed by as those that are stolen by contractors in this fashion. 45% of respondents from the FC. *is explains the identi- Other forms of harvesting outside the yield were cases ﬁcation of corruption as a driver of illegal logging in this where trees along the main access road to the harvested compartments were deliberately felled with the pretext that regime. It was also found that poor forest monitoring was re- they posed threat during road construction and also tres- passing into adjoining production compartments to fell sponsible for the perceived high level of illegalities. In conﬁrming this, a mix of respondents revealed that some trees. In the latter case, TUC holders repeat the stock numbers from their operating compartments and, with the contractors monitor oﬃcials of the FSD to know their movement so as to outwit them. *ey stated that illegal connivance of oﬃcials, secure transportation documents to loggers normally operate at night, on holidays, and during convey the logs. Loggers involved in this illegality through an the weekends when oﬃcers may not be on duty. *ey said interview disclosed that they normally indulge in this act of because of the high risk associated with such activities, they swapping and other forms of felling more trees outside the usually operate in accessible areas such as road side where approved yield in order to fulﬁll their contract volumes that they can avoid long skidding distances in what they term as the approved yield allocation in most cases cannot satisfy and to reduce logging cost. “fell and take.” It was also alleged that FSD staﬀ usually give less priority to GSBA and protection forest monitoring *e second form of illegal logging is when TUC holders hide behind chainsaw operators and contract them to fell compared to production forests. On the issue of sanctions, the penalties meted out to illegal loggers were cited to be too trees in compartments that are not yet due for harvesting low to deter oﬀenders from committing further forest knowing very well that, as concession holders, they will be crimes. In cases where oﬀences are detected by FC staﬀ, the given the ﬁrst option of evacuating such logs. When such loggers’/TUC holders are sanctioned to pay penalties trees are felled, TUC holders report the incident to the FSD equivalent to ten times the stumpage fee of the stolen tree. as stolen but abandoned logs by the unknown agent. *e However, respondents from the FC indicated that these FSD then grants the TUC holder a permit to regularize the penalties are not deterrent enough since the stumpage fees acquisition of such logs. on which the penalties are calculated are too small, and in *e third form of illegal logging is when undersize trees are promoted into higher girth classes and allowed for some instances, oﬀenders hide behind politicians to avoid being penalized. felling. *ese occurred when undersized trees are deliber- ately assigned higher diameters by stock survey teams (FC staﬀ) and included in the yield for felling. For instance, in the 3.1.2. Illegal Logging in the Production Management Regime Bia North FR, stock/tree number 656 which was a mahogany and Its Main Actors. Logging in this regime is allowed on a was measured as 94 cm, but in the stock book, it had been sustainable basis using the selective logging practices. TUC indicated as 110 cm; it was noted that the felling diameter holders and timber contractors are given permission to fell limit for mahogany was 110 cm, so if the actual diameter of prescribed amount of trees based on the approved yield. 94 cm had been indicated, it would not have qualiﬁed to be Nevertheless, illegal logging does occur in this regime, and included in the approved yield. *is deliberate act, which our analysis indicated that it does manifest itself in ﬁve was synonymous with the heavily demanded tree species, distinct ways. increases the number of trees to be felled from a com- *e ﬁrst form, which we called outside yield felling, was partment. Respondents from TUC holders and loggers observed to occur when TUC holders/lease-holding timber admitted that, in some cases, this had to be done to qualify a contractors operating under a prescribed yield in an ap- poorly stocked area for harvesting and, in other instances, to proved compartment fell trees other than those allocated to help increase the number of desirable trees that are to be them with or without the connivance of FSD oﬃcials. About included in the approved yield for felling. 8 International Journal of Forestry Research yield balance from previous operations. Summary of *e fourth form of illegal logging, which was not common, was logging by timber contractors who had nei- the reasons from the document reviewed includes the inability of the TUC holder to exhaust their ther TUCs nor temporary felling permit. In this regime, it is highly risky for such contractors to operate since most TUC allocated yield and unavailability of market for the holders have concession guards who collaborate with FSD species at the time of previous harvest. Unfortu- oﬃcials to clamp down on illegalities by outsiders. Not- nately, due to poor record keeping and the passage of withstanding, some connived with concession guards and time, there are inaccuracies in the yield balance. In oﬃcials of the FSD to perpetuate such crime as indicated by addition, permit holders ﬁnd it diﬃcult to ﬁnd the landowners and fringe community members. *ough TUC trees in the allocated yield balance; therefore, they holders corroborated this assertion, respondents from the harvest diﬀerent trees in substitution and use the FC disagreed but rather cited community members and stock numbers from the yield to aid them in evac- uating the illegally felled trees. *is observation was concession guards to be behind this form of illegalities. *e last form of illegal logging is the on-site conversion corroborated by 75% of respondents from the TUC holders and FSD ﬁeld oﬃcers. of timber into lumber using the chainsaw machine. *is either involved chainsaw operators of small timber com- (2) Overdependence on few species: overdependence of panies who are normally employed from forest fringe few species was cited as a reason (driver) for illegal communities or chainsaw operating gangs whose main logging. Respondents from the FC complained that it preoccupation is illegal chainsaw milling in and outside is always diﬃcult to get timber companies to harvest forest reserves. *ose operators engaged from the fringe the lesser-known species when they are included in communities, having previously worked in the forest, know the prescribed yield. *e industry still relies on the where the quality trees are located and have become con- few traditional species for exports; hence, it indulges versant with the amount of laxity in forest law enforcement in various forms of illicit harvesting to compensate by the forestry oﬃcers. *ey therefore return to saw the for shortfalls in its export targets for the traditional leftover trees knowing very well when they can easily operate species. without the oﬀence being detected. *is was identiﬁed with Other underlying factors mentioned included weak areas where TUC holders sublet the timber operations to enforcement of forest regulations, poor monitoring of forest smaller companies to log on their behalf. In the second form operations, and corruption on the part of FC oﬃcials. of illegal chainsaw milling, operators carry out their activ- ities with or without the connivance of other forest actors. Chainsaw operators interviewed revealed that because of the 3.2. Illegal Farming as a Driver of Forest Cover Change. many actors involved in this regime, it makes it highly risky Illegal farming is the conversion of forest land into a to operate without detection, so in most cases, they pay oﬀ farmland or agricultural land without authorization from a the major actors (concession guards, forestry oﬃcials, and competent forest authority. *is driver also was found to opinion leaders) before they enter into the forest. One manifest in diﬀerent forms in the regimes. chainsaw operator revealed that “whilst some chief’s sell the trees to us, others rather request for lumber with the pretext of using it for community projects before allowing us into the 3.2.1. Illegal Farming in GSBA and Other Protection Regimes forest.” According to FC oﬃcials, accessibility, created as a and Its Main Actors. Two forms of illegal farming man- result of timber harvesting, triggers the inﬂux of chainsaw ifested in GSBA and protection regimes. *e ﬁrst was activities since it oﬀers easy transportation of lumber from through admitted farm extensions. It was observed that the forests into the local timber markets. some chiefs and family heads, who are the original owners of We observed that illegal logging in this regime was admitted farms, either sell their farms to migrant settlers or driven by some underlying factors such as those described in enter into a beneﬁt-sharing arrangement with them to work the following: on the farms. Farmers take advantage of the not properly pillared and check-surveyed admitted farms to extend the (1) *e granting of compartment re-entry permits to sizes of their farms. Check surveys conducted in 11 admitted harvest residual yield: the FC logging manual re- farms randomly selected from three reserves, for example, quires a compartment to be closed 3 years after being showed a mean extension of 7± 3.25 ha per farm with opened for harvesting, and when such compartment current area signiﬁcantly higher than the original size is closed, returning into it within the current contract (Table 3). is not permitted. *e rationale, as explained by ex- *e second form of illegal farming observed in this perts, is to ensure that natural regeneration is not regime was clearing of forest land by people who are neither tampered with from further disturbances that may admitted farm owners nor have been permitted to do so by result from re-entering to extract residual yield. *is the Forestry Commission. Respondents claimed that the notwithstanding, our data suggest that compart- GSBAs created cover part of their forestland previously used ments which had been closed from harvesting and on for farming. *ey are therefore compelled to enter and il- the verge of recovery after going through a dormancy legally farm in protest to take back their land, especially since period of 4–7 years had been issued with entry the FSD has failed to provide them with extra farmlands. permits from the Forestry Commission to remove Poor supervision from staﬀ of the FC was observed as the International Journal of Forestry Research 9 Table 3: Comparative analysis of check survey of some selected *e main actors identiﬁed in illegal farming in this farms (n � 11) in three forest reserves. regime were staﬀ of FC, farmers (taungya and nontaungya), and private plantation developers. Poor supervision as a Original area (Ha) Current area (Ha) result of inadequate staﬀ (forest guards) to man various beats Mean 6.633636364 13.98636364 of the forest reserves and weak forest law enforcement Df 10 underpin illegal farming in this regime. In addition, pen- t-stat −2.260734809 alties meted out by the law courts to farmers who encroach p 0.047309419 on forest reserves are not deterrent enough. *is rather served as a motivation to oﬀenders than a deterrent to stop main underlying cause to these extensions. It became evident them. during the study that because protected areas do not have major activities, supervisory eﬀorts are more concentrated in 3.3. Wildﬁre as a Driver of Forest Cover Change. Wildﬁres in the productive parts of the reserve resulting in farm ex- this study refer to uncontrolled ﬁres that sweep through tensions in probably all the GSBAs and protected areas. forests. *ey are destructive and cause forest canopy loss. 3.2.2. Illegal Farming in the Production Regimes and Its Main 3.3.1. Wildﬁre in GSBA and Other Protection Regimes and Its Actors. Four diﬀerent forms of illegal farming were ob- Main Actors. In GSBA and protection regimes, ﬁres orig- served in this regime. *e ﬁrst was through admitted farm inated from both inside and outside the reserve. *ose from extensions as observed in the protection regime. However, outside the reserve occurred when ﬁres from nearby farms for this regime, most of them originated as a result of the ﬁnd their way into the forest. However, those that originated release of abandoned admitted farms to farmers. Farmers from inside the reserve occurred when hunters burn por- who were fortunate to have their ancestral admitted farm- tions of the degraded forest reserve with the aim of trapping lands released to them regrettably abused this right by wildlife. For instance, in Bia North, it was detected during extending the boundaries of the admitted farms in the false the ﬁeld visit and interviews that ﬁres were set to trap wildlife belief that their unlawful conduct would not be detected. that had found their way from the adjoining wildlife con- Some farmers interviewed also revealed that they sold their servation area (Bia South) into the reserve. Because of high released admitted farms to migrant farmers, who in a bid to protection levels at the wildlife conservation areas, hunters reap higher beneﬁts from their investments extended their see Bia North with limited protection as a haven for hunting farms. since it is a corridor for wildlife. With the exception of the *e second form of illegal farming was through abuse by wet and moist evergreen forests, the rest of the reserves in the “taungya farmers.” It was detected that some taungya Upland Evergreen and Dry Semideciduous zones experience farmers used by the FC to reforest degraded forest lands annual ﬁre outbreak. overstayed after the program and cleared portions of the In this regime, only two major actors played various roles forest for farming. When questioned why they betrayed the in the setting out of wildﬁres. *ey were hunters and farmers trust the Commission had in them by indulging in this illegal who farm along the reserves. Lack of collaboration among act, one taungya headsman who doubles as a subchief sums major stakeholders (staﬀ of FC, farmers, and fringe com- it this way: “all these years we were made to believe by the FC munities) and inadequate community sensitization were that forest reserves cannot be cleared for any purpose, and so if identiﬁed as major underlying causes of wildﬁres. Farmers they have allocated portions to us to farm and it’s possible, and community members interviewed bemoaned the level of why do we have to wait for them again when in fact we own collaboration between them and FC as respondents say they the forest?” have not had any form of education on ﬁre prevention and *e third form of illegal farming was through the al- control mechanisms. location of forest lands to private plantation developers for reforestation. Some of the private developers adopted the taungya approach for reforestation where farmers were 3.3.2. Wildﬁre in Production Regimes and Its Main Actors. In production regimes, almost all ﬁres start from within the invited to plant their agricultural crops together with the trees. Because the farmers only reward was their food forest reserve with the exception of the annual ﬁre outbreak produce, they concentrated on the agricultural crops and in the Tano Oﬃn FR, which begins from outside the forest mostly abandoned the tree-planting component. *erefore, reserve by farmers and cattle herders who deliberately burn after harvesting their produce, they were chased out of the the grasses to stimulate the growth of fresh grass for the land by the developers, and many of them ended up in the cattle. *e data gathered indicate that ﬁres originating from adjoining part of the reserve which was not allocated for the inside reserve were set by either admitted farmers or timber operators. Interviewees revealed that admitted reforestation to farm. *e last form of illegal farming ob- served in this regime was through encroachment by farmers farmers, especially those operating under the modiﬁed taungya system, due to fear of being ejected from the forest who had sold their oﬀ-reserve farmlands to illegal miners. After they had lost their lands to mining, but probably had after canopy closure of their plots, deliberately set ﬁre to the plots to kill the planted trees so that they can continue to not made enough money to migrate to other livelihood pursuits, the farmers turned to the forest reserve for farming. farm on the plots. Also, during land preparation, ﬁres from 10 International Journal of Forestry Research between August 17, 2017, and September 5, 2017, 11 people admitted farms often get out of hand and spread to other parts of the reserve. Timber operators, on the contrary, who were arrested from the Fure River FR and prosecuted at the law courts on charges of illegal mining were ﬁned be- allegedly, set ﬁre to compartments not due for harvesting and later apply to salvage burnt and dying trees from the tween 40 and 80 penalty units amounting to GHC 480–GHC burnt compartment. *is source of wildﬁre may not be 960, respectively (District 4th Quarterly reports, 2017). *is widespread but was a suspected case in the Tano-Oﬃn FR. In was despite the fact that Forest Protection Amendment Act the Tano-Oﬃn FR case, though yield marking was granted 624 of 2002, section 1 subsection 1(i), on which they were for the trees to be salvaged, there was no evidence on ﬁle to charged prescribes penalty units not exceeding 500 or to substantiate claims of arson. imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or to both. *e main underlying causes of these ﬁres are poor forest Illegal mining in this regime was driven by inadequate monitoring, lack of control over forest users, and the absence protection measures put in place by both the mining lease holders and the FC. Whilst FC staﬀ are not armed to ﬁght the of a ﬁre management plan. illegal miners who are well equipped with arms, the mine concession holders do not even have concession guards in 3.4. Illegal Mining as a Driver of Forest Cover Change. place to complement the eﬀorts of FC staﬀ. *is involves mining activity in any form that is undertaken in a forest reserve without authorization from a competent 4. Discussion forest authority. *e current study aimed at interrogating how diﬀerent forest management regimes in the high forest zone of Ghana bring 3.4.1. Illegal Mining in GSBAs and Other Protection Regimes diﬀerent perspectives to the meaning of forest cover loss and and Its Main Actors. Documents reviewed and ﬁeld visits its drivers of change. Results indicated that the factors re- revealed that illegal mining in this regime occurred in recent sponsible for forest cover change manifested themselves times mainly due to abuse of prospecting permits that were diﬀerently within various management regimes and often granted to some mining companies. *ese prospecting had speciﬁc actors behind them. *ese drivers were observed permits were not supposed to result in serious forest dis- to be multifaceted and intertwined similar to what was turbance (open the forest canopy or cause tree removal); observed by . however, as at the time of ﬁeld veriﬁcation, some had been converted into full-scale mining without approval from the FC (Figures 4 and 5). Respondents from the fringe com- 4.1. Illegal Logging. *e ﬁght against illegal logging over the munities reiterated that it was the introduction of the permit years is reported to be a topmost priority for Ghana . system that brought illegal mining into these two reserves. Notwithstanding, this study observed illegal logging is *is establishes the fact that illegal mining operations began widespread and manifests diﬀerently across regimes. *is after the Forestry Commission had gone contrary to its own conﬁrms earlier studies conducted by Birikorang et al. and rules to issue a prospecting permit to two companies in both Glastra [22, 23], but contrary to the argument that forest Fure River and Tano-Oﬃn FRs. Until then, records of protection in conservation priority areas, such as biodi- mining in Fure River and Tano-Oﬃn Forest Reserves only versity hotspots, is more eﬀective and likely to impact existed in previous working plans dated as far back as 1928. positively on forest cover retention [3, 12]. Heavy-duty mining equipment was found being used in One observation made in this study is that, in the GSBAs both reserves. and protection regimes, oﬀenders seem to engage many It is without doubt that poor management decisions by actors in perpetuating the illegalities than in the production the Forestry Commission (FC) in granting prospecting regime. *is was similar to what was reported by Boakye  permits in a protected area, which was also driven by po- in his analysis of what motivates chainsaw milling in Ghana. litical pressure, were the underlying causes to this illegal *e observation could be attributed to the fact that because mining. GSBAs and protection areas are excluded from logging, they are high-risk areas to illegal loggers; hence, they strategize to 3.4.2. Illegal Mining in the Production Regimes and Its Main involve many actors as a means to reduce the risk of being Actors. In this regime, small implements and tools were used apprehended. It was also evident that the manifestation of for illegal mining (galamsey). We observed that the illegal illegal logging in the GSBAs and other protection areas was operators work in groups with leaders who ﬁnance the op- not as complex as that of the production regime. *is is erations. Usually, they are armed making it diﬃcult for forest probably because in the GSBAs, the actors will normally be guards to confront them. *e study revealed that even though in a hurry to orchestrate the illegal act to avoid detection these operators work without authorization because of the kind since they do not have the right to operate in the forest in the of implements being used by them, their level of destruction ﬁrst place. Where they have temporary rights, such as right was not comparable to what was observed in the GSBAs. to evacuate abandoned logs, their stay in the forest is for a In instances where the FC collaborates with the security short duration and may be closely monitored. agencies to eﬀect arrests, the operators often get political Manifestation of illegal logging in the production re- support to escape prosecutions, and when they are prose- gimes appeared more complex possibly due to the fact that cuted, the ﬁnes are not deterrent enough. For instance, logging is permitted in these regimes. Most of the actors are International Journal of Forestry Research 11 (a) (b) Figure 4: Remnant portions of the Fure River Forest Reserve GSBA adjoining the prospecting area. (a) (b) (c) (d) Figure 5: Scene of the prospecting area in Fure River Forest Reserve GSBA turned into surface mining. “insiders,” i.e., stakeholders who have legal entitlement to Concerning the underlying drivers of illegal logging, our observations point to issues which are similar in all regimes the forest in one way or the other; hence, they have a lot of room to manipulate the system. Stakeholders such as TUC as well as those that appear speciﬁc to some regimes. For or concession holders have up to at least three years within instance, issues of corruption, poor forest monitoring, and which to stay in a compartment. *is period oﬀers enough weak law enforcement ran across all regimes and have been time to plan and execute illegal activities in a manner that widely reported by other studies [2, 24–26]. However, the allows them to cover their tracks. Also, within this same lack of revenue ﬂow to forest land owners and loss of felling period, in most cases, the same FC oﬃcials supervise the rights to timber right holders were unique to GSBAs and actors, so there is the possibility of compromising profes- protected areas. Regarding forest revenue, landowners and sionalism due to familiarity. Some of the forms in which TUC holders claimed they were not adequately consulted in the creation of GSBAs and protection areas although the FC illegal logging takes such as deliberate promotion of un- dersize trees to qualify them for felling in the approved yield, knew the decision to create these regimes would deprive scrapping oﬀ stock numbers, swapping trees, and burying landowners and TUC holders of revenue. Such situations stumps in attempt to fell more trees than the allocated yield according to  do create perverse incentives that drive have not been identiﬁed by other studies. *is shows how forest degradation. Although the GSBA management plans sophisticated illegal logging has become and how far the show that stakeholder consultation was quite elaborate  actors are prepared to go in order to satisfy their resource and therefore the above stated claims may not be accurate, needs. It also demonstrates high probability of multiple actor the fact that no compensation was paid for these areas and involvement and lends credence to the respondents’ claim of there is no revenue generation from the GSBAs and pro- corruption and other unprofessional practices by FC oﬃcials tection areas make it a litigious case with very uncertain connected with logging. stakeholder collaboration outcome. In production forests, 12 International Journal of Forestry Research activities in all the regimes, yet the perception of ﬁre inci- the underlying drivers have their root in the desire of timber contractors to maintain their production levels in the face of dences was higher in the production regime. Technically, production forests are more prone to wildﬁres due to dwindling raw material base and reliance on few traditional export species. *ese drivers underscore the need for Ghana desiccation resulting from canopy opening and the rise in to support its timber harvesting with robust silvicultural fuel load following logging . *is may partly explain the treatments to encourage forest regeneration and early re- above claim. However, it can also be argued that the two placement of harvested stock as suggested by various studies regimes face diﬀerent levels of ﬁre threat. For instance, it was . observed that a contractor deliberately sets ﬁre to a forest in order to gain access to ﬁre-damaged trees for salvage felling. Although it appears as an isolated case, the relatively large 4.2. Illegal Farming. *e study observed that illegal farming number of ﬁre-damaged trees that are harvested through manifests itself diﬀerently across the regimes even though, in salvage permits gives cause to speculate that persistent most cases, it originated from admitted farm extensions. *e wildﬁres in TUC areas may have incendiary motives and are policy of allowing admitted farmers the right to continue probably triggered by the industry players for their eco- farming in agricultural ﬁeld enclaves in forest reserves was nomic interest. well intended; however, it has now become more prob- lematic because these farmers continue to extend their farms to the detriment of the forest. *is admitted farm extension 4.4. Illegal Mining. Oﬃcially, mining is allowed to a certain phenomenon observed by this study tends to follow a his- extent (max. 2% of the forest reserve area) in production torical antecedent because it conﬁrms the work of Owubah reserves but not in GSBAs and protected areas . et al. , who observed similar forest reserve encroachment However, the results show that both oﬃcially sanctioned in the Tano-Ehuro Forest Reserve in the Western Region of mining and illegal ones were quite common in production as Ghana. RMSC  also revealed the widespread nature of well as GSBAs and protected areas. For now, it is not clear if the problem in the country. management regimes impact diﬀerently on illegal mining; *e regime eﬀect on illegal farming is revealed through what is evident, nonetheless, is the fact that mining is now an the type of farmers involved in the encroachment and the important driver of forest cover loss in forest reserves, a point of entry for encroachment. Whilst in the GSBAs and situation that was probably unthinkable a few years ago. protected areas, encroachers are farmers, most of whom had Similar impact of mining on forests was reported by Asner no farming rights in the forest and operate from healthy and Tupayachi  in Peru where gold mining has led to the looking forests, in the production forests, encroachers were degradation of Peruvian Amazon forest reserves and con- mainly previous modiﬁed taungya farmers and farmers of tinues to pose a major threat to biodiversity, water quality, private developers who have taken over degraded forest forest carbon stocks, and human health. areas which have been abandoned by private plantation Illegal mining in at least one of the GSBAs was triggered developers. *e upsurge of illegal farming in the production by unprofessional judgment of oﬃcials of the FC in granting regime may be attributed to the poor monitoring on the part a prospecting permit that metamorphosed into surface of FC oﬃcials. *is observation is consistent with that of mining. *ough the Commission maintains that it did not Watson  who reported that although the taungya system grant mining permits to the companies, the granting of the is considered as a low-cost mechanism by governments for prospecting permits was in itself inconsistent with the forest forest plantation development, the inﬂux of illegal farmers reserves’ strategic management plan , and the claim that that is left in its wake to perpetuate illegal farming is ex- the decision was as a result of political interference creates pected to be more costly and devastating to forest estates. uncertainty about the FC’s ability to control mining in forest *e involvement of modiﬁed taungya farmers in forest reserves. It is evident from the study that there are no signs encroachment betrays the spirit of collaboration between the that illegal mining is going to be stopped due to the inﬂuence FC and forest fringe communities, but more importantly, the of politicians and inadequate punishment meted to of- results suggest that collaboration could turn into a driver of fenders. Already Ghana is reported to be among countries deforestation if not managed well. with the highest rate of deforestation in the world  with the deforestation rate of 2.19 percent per annum . Mining in forest reserves if not remedied will jeopardize the 4.3. Wildﬁre Regimes. *e study found that, with the ex- already precarious state of forest degradation in the country. ception of the Wet Evergreen forest type, wildﬁres drive forest degradation and deforestation, especially in the Moist Semideciduous zone. *is is not surprising since the Wet 5. Conclusions Evergreen zone has the highest rainfall in Ghana, whilst high temperatures, occasional droughts, and the “invasion” of *e drivers of deforestation and forest degradation identi- grass species characterize the Moist Semideciduous zone ﬁed in this study were not always similar across various . 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International Journal of Forestry Research – Hindawi Publishing Corporation
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