Justice in the forests: Ghana

Article, 07 April 2011

This film looks at how the Forest Governance Learning Group team in Ghana is exploring solutions to the problem of chainsaw logging.

'Trees in local hands' details how the Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG) team in Ghana are working on practical ways of securing local decision-making to address the issue of chainsaw lumbering.

The film explains how for almost a century the timber business has been dominated by large companies, who have been given concessions by the state. The failure of this system to allow local people to gain substantial benefits from the forest has led to a proliferation of unauthorised chainsaw operators, who now account for the majority of trees felled in Ghana. And in response to this situation, many local people have decided to extract timber for their own benefits, regardless of a law which forbids it.

Attempts to enforce the law have failed – often with loss of life and limb in the process.But some communities and chainsaw operators recognise the problems and are taking matters into their own hands. Some have formed the Domestic Lumber Trade Association, to press for legalisation and regulation.

With the NGO coalition ForestWatch Ghana and the government's Forestry Commission, the FGLG is working to abandon the pretence that the state can control timber trees on farmers' lands and to explore better deals for local control of forestry.

Other films in the series

Justice in the forests: MalawiJustice in the forests: Malawi


Justice in the forests: VietnamJustice in the forests: Vietnam


Justice in the forests: UgandaJustice in the forests: Uganda


These films have been produced by IIED and Dominic Elliot with the financial assistance of the European Union (EU) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The contents of these films are the responsibility of IIED and can under no circumstances by regarded as reflecting the position of the EU or DFID.


James Mayers (james.mayers@iied.org), director, IIED's Natural Resources research group

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