UBC Undergraduate Research

Customary tenure rights, the informal economy and illegal forestry practices in Ghana Matthies, Brent David


The continual adoption of and/or changes to new and existing common laws in Ghana has been at the forefront of many previous tenure reform attempts. However, the result has always fallen short of creating effective and efficient laws and institutions governing this vital economic tool. As a result, inefficient and often corrupt precedents that encourage non-enforcement and disregard for the common laws have prevailed. This review looks at the potential relationship between customary tenure, the informal forestry economy and illegal logging. Analysis suggests that this relationship is one the primary sources of illegal logging in Ghana, and aims to present the problem and offer multiple solutions to addressing it in a holistic manner. The current ‘business as usual’ scenario in Ghana is no longer acceptable, if the objective is to maintain a sustainable forestry industry of native species over the long term. It represents a disregard for the domestic informal industry, the forest fringe communities and community forest governance. Therefore, it is felt that talking about and addressing these, and many other, issues is not only pragmatic, but also essential. This review suggests three solutions to reducing the chronic inefficiency and increasing the tenure effectiveness. They include: the education of forest fringe community members, addressing the variations in customary and common laws and improvement in the enforcement of weak common laws.

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