Dependence on forest resources and tropical deforestation in Ghana
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In Ghana, forests provide many products on which the local population subsists. However, these resources are depleting due to a variety of factors including agricultural expansion and over-exploitation of forest resources. This paper presents an analysis of the level of local dependence on forest resources and its implications for forest management in Ghana. The paper also outlines the causes of continuing deforestation in the studied region from the perspective of the local residents and discusses what role they could play in addressing the problem. The aim is to share more light on the current causes of deforestation and make suggestions for improved community-based forest management practices that could help to reduce deforestation. Primary data was collected through personal interviews and focus group discussions with 431 household heads randomly selected from three Forest Districts in Ghana. The survey showed that income from agriculture constituted 60% of the average total rural household income. Forest income provided 38% of total household income, and off-farm income 2%. The four most highly ranked causes of deforestation are poverty-driven agriculture, lack of alternative rural wage employment other than farming, household population levels, and conflict in traditional land practices. This shows a shift in the view of local people who in the past were quick to blame logging companies and government policies for deforestation. The majority of the respondents depended on wild animals like snail, bush meat, wild honey and wild and cultivated vegetables. Given the reasons for deforestation, much thought needs to go into agroforestry practices (e.g. snail farming, bee keeping, fish farming, and vegetable production) in efforts to reduce deforestation, which are currently less promoted.
KeywordsEconomic dependence on forest Forest management attitude Local knowledge Tropical deforestation Agroforestry
The International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and the Government of Ghana financially supporting the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG)-led rehabilitation project within which this study was carried out.
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