Media Tasked to Help Settle Transparency Issue in Forest Sector

The forestry sector is replete with several loopholes in major accountability and transparency issues which promote corruption in that sector, Dr Eric Marfo of the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) has observed.


These include holders of timber rights, timber utilization contracts, timber utilization permit and special permits.


Dr Marfo asserted that Special Permits regime for example is not in the country’s Forest Law.

“Special permit is not in the Forestry Law,” he said

These must engage the attention and focus of the media, he said.

Dr Marfo was addressing a group of Journalists at a workshop on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in Ghana in Koforidua.

It was organized by Friends of the Earth, Ghana under the auspices of the European Union Forest Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

He said Act 267 which spelt out how forestry revenue was to be shared provided another fertile ground for abuse.

Dr Marfo said the Act gave the Forestry Commission 50 percent of the gross revenue for forest management with the remaining 50 percent to the Stool Lands Commission to be shared among other stakeholders.

Under the arrangement District Assemblies got 55 percent, Stool Lands 25 percent, Traditional Authorities 20 percent.

He questioned the basis on which the Forestry Commission appropriated 50 percent of forest revenues for forest management, saying such discretionary power undermined good forest management.

“It undermines commitment of communities to forest protection, farmers are also managers of trees and must get benefits to retain interest,” he argued.

Dr Marfo said the Forestry Commission must disclose its management cost to the public.

“How much of these amount, have been used.”

Dr Marfo also took issues with the District Assemblies 55 percent share of the forest revenue and doubted the mounts were utilized for the intended purpose.

He said the Social Responsibility Agreements in the share of forest revenue must give direct benefits to the communities and not the traditional rulers.

He said the sharing of forest revenue must reflect “distributional justice, contribution justice and procedural justice.”

Dr Marfo said Articles 36 and 267 of the 1992 Constitution, Act 547 as amended and Legislative Instrument (L.I 1649) as amended and the Ghana Forest and Wildlife Policy of 2012 were major yardsticks against which the issue of accountability and transparency in forest governance must be measured.

He therefore urged journalists to form networks to tackle transparency and accountability issues in the forest sector because it is a lucrative sector with several desperate interests and therefore dangerous for journalists to tackle individually.

Such a network would also enable them to mobilize resources necessary to undertake that responsibility.



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