In 2019, CSOs rallied together to help conserve and protect Ghana’s remaining forests, launching the Civil Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) platform. Members includes NDF, Tropenbos Ghana, Civic Response, EcoCare Ghana, Rural Development and Youth Association, Rainforest Alliance, and Friends of the Earth Ghana, and is open to all interested organizations. According to Abena Woode, NDF’s capacity building expert, this platform gives them a broader base, creating synergy between groups, leading to a united front for advocacy and influencing national policy.
Obed Owusu Addai, lead campaigner for EcoCare Ghana, stated that “NDF and Tropenbos Ghana have been very influential in getting the Forestry Commission to collaborate with CSOs”. It is unprecedented to have government officials in a CSO platform, showing the trust and cooperation built up. Attah Owusu, Technical Director of Forest Commission, noted that the group of CSOs have supported Commission objectives and the Ghana Wildlife Bill (2020), and “collaborating with CSOs on forest monitoring is a step in the right direction”. In 2009, under FLEGT, Ghana and the EU signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement to ensure that all timber produced is legal, and to fully implement this, all parties recognized the importance of independent forest monitoring led by civil society. Tropenbos Ghana and NDF created a dialogue between CSOs, private timber companies, communities and the government to discuss forest protection, royalties and other payments, and social responsibility agreements.
The concept was piloted by different CSOs in various forms since 2010, involving Civic Response, Friends of the Earth Ghana, the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development, Care International, NDF and the National Forestry Forum-Ghana. Elvis Oppong Mensah of Civic Response, did note though that before the CSIFM platform, the Forestry Commission and CSOs were always at loggerheads. But since its formation, CSOs collaborate in training and capacity building of Forest Service Division officials on forest monitoring. CBOs and CSOs have also developed their capacity to undertake control and verification missions with the Forestry Commission to examine the authenticity of reported infractions, and corrective actions. Through the coordination of organizations in the CSIFM platform, more effective work is ensured and more forest fringe communities are reached, guaranteeing a wider portion of Ghana’s dwindling forest reserves are safeguarded.
Adapted from "Civil society organizations are collaborating to safeguard forest reserves in Ghana" by Abena Woode, David Young, Mustapha Seidu, Mercy Owusu-Ansah, Doreen Asumah Yeboah, and Daniel Kofi Abu
Project financed by European Union - The opinions and views expressed are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the opinions and views of the European Union.