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Ghana: Lessons Learnt

This section details key findings and conclusions from the research and recommendations for different stakeholder groups. Overall, information provision on the forest sector has not improved in the last year, but the following key observations can be made:
  • A Freedom of Information Act could make an important difference by providing a legal framework for requiring the Forestry Commission and other institutions that relate in the forest sector to publish information and respond to requests, but the passage of the Right to Information Bill continues to be delayed and members of the government have attempted to introduce restrictive clauses. The Coalition on the Right to Information Bill continue to organize activities aimed at engaging government on these clauses and pressing for the passage of the Bill to facilitate easy access to public information.
  • Participation of civil society in forest sector processes has improved at the national level, but the district forums and National Forest Forum are not representative of communities. Pilot forums facilitated by civil society organisations and other groups need to be scaled up and integrated into decision-making on the forest sector.
  • The Ministry of Lands and Forestry through the Forestry Commission continue to engage Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in many processes. CSOs therefore serve on some platforms, including the Natural Resource and Environment Sector Group and the VPA Multi-Stakeholder Implementation Committee.
  • The signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union presented the opportunity to comprehensively review forest governance and enforcement so that it addresses the many challenges facing the sector, but progress in the development of new policies and laws has continued to be slow over the last year. The Forest and Wildlife Policy is nearing finalisation, however.
  • The need for transparency is also highlighted in light of the current discussions around REDD. The rights of all stakeholders should be respected and taken on board in all aspects, be it decision making, respect for traditional knowledge and values and allocation and sharing of financial benefits.
  • One area where there has been a clear improvement in information being made available is in the disbursement of royalties from timber resources. The District Assemblies continue to manage forest royalties without strict guidelines and therefore it is not transparent to the public how they utilise forest revenues despite several calls by CSOs on them to label projects that they use these revenues for. However, as the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is considering extending its work to cover the forest sector, it is hoped that the district assemblies will be compelled to publicize the use of forest royalties.
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