Providing alternatives to illegal chainsaw milling practices through the EU Chainsaw Milling Project
Illegal logging in Ghana is partly a problem of poverty. Changing the policy environment — especially enforcement to combat illegal logging — has proved to be important over the years, but needs to be complemented by offering alternative income opportunities to illegal activities to the rural poor in forest communities. The Chainsaw Milling Project, initiated by the Ghana Forestry Commission, the Forest Research Institute of Ghana and Tropenbos International, with funding from the European Commission, involves stakeholders in dialogue, information gathering and the development of alternatives to illegal and unsustainable chainsaw milling practices.
The project has piloted three alternative forest-related income opportunities: artisanal milling, plantation development and charcoal production. This publication describes, discusses and assesses these economic activities using four case studies. Following the Sustainable Livelihood Framework, the study shows that these economic activities can be viable alternatives to chainsaw milling and can contribute to the sustainable livelihoods of communities living in and around forests in Ghana. However, a number of conditions for success needs to be in place, such as: the presence of an adequate regulatory framework for artisanal milling; secure access to legal logs, land and other resources; adequate skills and capacity of community members; and effective law enforcement.
These conditions for success require urgent attention on three aspects of forest governance in Ghana: land and tree tenure and the inequitable sharing of benefits; access to forest land that favours big companies; and the persistent corruption that jeopardizes any attempt towards sustainable forestry. The existing forest governance regime negatively affects the potential for small-and medium-scale processing of timber and related industries that could offer economically viable alternatives to illegal chainsaw milling.