The Forestry Commission (FC) New Service Charter 2008 includes commitments to information transparency under its core function and sets out service standards for public correspondence and reports. Through the Customer Services Officers in some Forest Districts, the FC has made efforts to improve education and awareness amongst communities. In these areas, the Customer Services Officers have provided community members with relevant answers and clarified issues with regard to their queries on forests. There are cases where requests for forest information have been made by communities and individuals, and the FC has provided this information, but it is difficult to assess how consistently this is done. When it is eventually passed into law, it is hoped that the Right to Information Bill will compel the FC to regularly publish information and respond to requests.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) highlights transparency as an important principle of the legality assurance system (LAS), but unlike other agreements it does not include a specific annex on public information to be regularly published. Global Witness with the Rural Environmental Care Association conducted a VPA transparency gap assessment, which found that although much of the information that underpins the LAS may be made available on request, this would depend on the discretion of the authority and could be difficult for communities to negotiate without capacity building and support (1). Despite some improvements, the assessment found that key documents and data were not published online or proactively made available through local offices and media, which seriously limits transparency and accountability. The VPA Joint Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism also reported that the FC committed to develop a communication strategy by September 2012; civil society has had some input into this but the deadline was missed.
(1) Rural Environmental Care Association and Global Witness (2012) Ghana VPA Transparency Gap Assessment. Available at http://www.foresttransparency.info/report-card/updates/750/african-timber-exporting-countries-failing-to-meet-access-to-information-commitments/
|Title||a. FC New Service Charter
Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union
b. Government of Ghana and European Union