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«Dissertations Forestales 149 Forest law compliance in the High-Forest Zone of Ghana: an analysis of forest farmers’ livelihoods, their forest ...»

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DFID - Department for International Development EC – European Commission EU – European Union FLEGT – Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade FORIG – Forest Research Institute of Ghana G8 – The Group of Eight (The forum of the governments of the eight largest economies of the world) GoG – Government of Ghana HFZ – High Forest Zone MTS – Modified Taungya System NGO – Non Governmental Organisation OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development SL – Sustainable Livelihood SLF – Sustainable Livelihood Framework UN – United Nations UNDP – United Nations Development Programme VPA – Voluntary Partnership Agreement


1.1 Linking governance, the rule of law, and individual law compliance The rule of law can play a central role in promoting good governance and ultimately sustainable development. Zaelke et al. (2005:30) propose a straightforward relationship between the concepts as follows: “sustainable development depends upon good governance, good governance depends upon the rule of law, and the rule of law depends upon effective compliance”. The role of good governance in promoting sustainable development has been increasingly recognised, especially after the Rio Summit in 1992 and the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 (Shannon 2002, Humphreys 2006, Saastamoinen 2009, Rayner et al. 2010).

Governance is a dynamic process, and as such, it is difficult to define and observe.

Therefore, as Graham et al. (2003) discuss, scholars of governance focus on the governance system, or the framework upon which the process rests—including agreements, procedures, norms, rules, conventions and policies that define who holds power, how decisions are made and how accountability is rendered. Good governance is a term adopted among scholars to emphasise the normative perspective on governance (UNDP 1997), and is broadly defined in the context of the coordination of human behaviour towards common purposes and goals (Zaelke et al. 2005, Rayner 2010). In more detail, it addresses how actors in a society—including governments—mutually interact, relate, and make decisions.

The sets of good governance principles proposed by international and intergovernmental organisations such as UNDP, OECD and the EU all include the rule of law as one of the principles of good governance (OECD 1997, UNDP 1997, EC 2001).

Formal and informal law—along with social norms, principles and sets of values—are important mechanisms for guiding and controlling human behaviour in conflicting situations, such as the management of human-nature interactions and natural resources including forests (Ostrom 1990, Rayner 2010). A primary difference between law and other mechanisms (e.g., social norms) is that a law is highly centralised, enacted and enforced by a third party—usually the state (Posner 1996, Cialdini and Trost 1998)—whereas social and personal norms are decentralised, emerging at local levels, and are “enforced” internally without the interference of a third party. Assuming the importance of the rule of law in promoting good governance, the question then arises as to how to encourage law compliance at different levels, from individual to global and in different contexts. However, this question, in the case of natural resources in general and in forestry in particular, has gained insufficient attention (Schmithuesen 2003, Bernstein 2005, Cashore 2002, Hansen 2011). With the rise in global environmental problems and the consequent emergence of international environmental laws and policies, such as the EU FLEGT Action Plan (EC 2003), there is an elevated interest in the concept of law compliance in forestry (ContrerasHermosilla and Peter 2005, Blaser 2010). The concept of forest law compliance has a central place in the EU FLEGT Action Plan, as the Plan is given effect through strengthening compliance with forestry laws among actors and stakeholders at the domestic level (Bernstein and Cashore 2010).

In the context of international forest policy, there is a need to move away from the notion of the state as the only actor and authority towards multiple actors and authorities, including firms and citizens (Shannon 2002, Tikkanen et al. 2002, Bernstein 2005, Saastamoinen 2009). The question of law compliance in this case also moves away from traditional state enforcement and compliance towards firm and individual compliance.

Understanding the factors determining individual law compliance behaviour is a prerequisite for establishing effective strategies to promote compliance with forest laws.

Multidisciplinary theoretical approaches to compliance, as well as empirical research on compliance in other fields (e.g., fisheries, tax compliance) can provide fertile ground for the study of compliance in the forest sector.

1.2 Illegal logging: definition, extent and impacts

Ambiguities in defining illegalities in forestry and the phenomenon of illegal logging are as well known as the phenomena themselves. A narrow and a broader way of defining illegalities in the forest sector can be distinguished—the former being commonly used among policy makers and the latter among scholars. Policy makers tend to focus only on timber harvesting, introducing the term of ‘illegal logging’, i.e., “harvesting of timber in violation of national laws” (see, e.g., EC 2003). Scholars, on the other hand, argue that there is a need to consider a wider range of illegal activities in forestry along with logging, thus introducing the term of ‘illegal forest activities’. The term encompasses a vast range of unlawful activities at different stages of the forest goods production chain and beyond— from planning, management, the allocation of land rights, logging, transport and timber processing to trade and the allocation of benefits—performed in violation of national (and in some cases international) regulations and conventions (Contreras-Hermosilla 2002, Tacconi et al. 2003, Contreras-Hermosilla and Peter 2005). In this research, the focus is on a wide range of forest-related activities performed in violation of national legislation in Ghana.

Illegal logging takes place in developing as well as developed countries (ContrerasHermosilla 2002, SCA&WRI 2004); nevertheless, the extent and impacts of illegal logging tend to be more widespread and more severe in developing tropical countries (SCA&WRI 2004, Tacconi 2007, Brown et al. 2008). Most of the studies on the extent of illegal logging focus primarily on the so-called ‘high risk countries’ (i.e., the top ten countries that are believed to export the largest quantities of illegal timber), suggesting a range of illegal logging from 20% (e.g., in Russia) to 90% in the Brazilian Amazon (Contreras-Hermosilla 2002, SCA&WRI 2004). Similarly high rates of illegal logging (70-90% of total log volume) are reported for Indonesia and some Central and West African countries (SCA&WRI 2004, Turner et al. 2007). However, these figures, besides being slightly outdated, are also rather debatable considering the uncertainty and variations of the definitions and statistical methods used.

Illegal logging in Ghana is recognised as a considerable issue, gaining primary attention in the national forest policy debate. According to Repetto (1990), the country lost 78% of its original tropical forest in the period from 1900 to 1989. A study conducted with data from 1999 estimates that 70% of the total harvested timber in Ghana is harvested illegally (Birikorang et al. 2001). This estimate was more recently confirmed by Hansen and Treue (2008), who also further suggest that most of it (75%) is accounted for by the informal sector (chainsaw operators), which produce for the domestic market. Over the period from 1996 to 2005, the annual timber harvest in Ghana has ranged between 3.3 and 3.7 million m3, compared to an annual allowable cut of 1.0 million m3 (Hansen and Treue 2008).

The prominence of illegal logging in the global forest policy debate largely owes to the well-documented negative impacts of illegal logging. Some of the most acknowledged negative impacts include (i) loss of governmental revenues and depression of forest product markets (SCA&WRI 2004, Brack 2007); (ii) deforestation, forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, emission of greenhouse gasses and reduction of forest-related environmental services (Contreras-Hermosilla 2002, Houghton 2003, Tacconi et al. 2003, Curran et al.

2004, Damnyag et al. 2011); and (iii) contributions to poverty and national and regional armed conflicts (Global Witness 2001, SAMFU 2002, Kaimowitz 2003).

Although the extent and negative impacts of illegal logging have gained considerable attention in the forest policy debate as well as in research, the drivers of illegal logging and the motivations for the violation of forest laws are considerably less well understood. Some initial efforts to study the sources of non-compliance, and thus the sources of forest illegalities, have identified a list of broad and highly overlapping, context-specific drivers of illegal logging. The major sources are summarised by Contreras-Hermosilla and Peter (2005), Tacconi (2007a) and Blasser (2010) and include flawed policy and legal frameworks, institutional problems, lack of enforcement capacity, corruption, profitseeking by forest companies, the economics of forest illegalities, and the role of the timber trade. Understanding the sources of illegal logging is a precondition for formulating effective strategies for combating illegal logging (Contreras-Hermosilla and Peter 2005, Palo and Lehto 2012). Thus, an appropriate and comprehensive scholarly work on sources of non-compliance in forestry is needed.

1.3 Illegal logging as an international policy issue, forest law enforcement and the EU FLEGT Action Plan The problems of deforestation, forest degradation and illegal logging have long been present in the forest policy agenda at national levels. However, with increased globalisation, global environmental problems, and the fading of the conventional political boundaries of the nation-state, the problems have increasingly gained international relevance (Schmithuesen 2003, Humphreys 2006, Brown et al. 2008). In the 1990s, owing to the growing environmental activism and pressures from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as the limited success of previous schemes to address the problem of deforestation in timber-producing countries (Schmithuesen 1976, Cashore et al. 2006), the interest in forest legality and forest law enforcement reached a new peak (Humphreys 2006, Brown et al. 2008, Ogle 2008). Initially, donors and industrialised countries took a leading role, setting the future policy agenda on illegal logging at the global scale. Major international policy initiatives – among numerous bilateral and multilateral agreements – include the G8 Action Programme on Forests in 1998 and the US President’s Initiative Against Illegal Logging in 2003 (Gulbrandsen and Humphreys 2006, Ogle 2008).

Following these developments, in the early 2000s, the European Commission began to develop its own contribution to the halting of illegal logging in timber-producing countries.

As a result, the EU FLEGT Action Plan was developed (EC FLEGT briefing notes 2004The Action Plan aims to combat illegal logging and strengthen the enforcement of forestry laws in timber-producing countries by ending the import of timber that has been defined as ‘illegal’ from timber-producing FLEGT partner countries into the EU’s borders.

Through legal reforms, the EU FLEGT also intends to strengthen forest governance and build capacity in these countries, which is hoped to eventually cause positive social impacts and poverty reduction (EC 2003, 2005, EC-Ghana 2009). The FLEGT takes advantage of the EU’s influential role in the international timber market, leveraging the potential to influence the forest policy and behaviour of timber-producing countries through trade. It is therefore understood that the Plan involves an innovative approach towards counteracting illegal logging, involving market instruments, trade restrictions, forest governance reforms and capacity building (EC 2003, 2005, Brown et al. 2008). The two main pillars within the FLEGT are a timber legality assurance system and support for governance reform (EC 2005, Brack 2006, Gulbrandsen and Humphreys 2006, Brown et al.


The central component of the FLEGT Action Plan is the bilateral voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) between the EC (representing the EU member states in trade matters) and individual timber-producing countries (EC-Ghana VPA Brief 2009). The main elements of the VPA include a definition of legality, a timber-licensing scheme, the verification of legality, and monitoring of the system (Attah and Beeko 2008, Attah et al. 2009, EC-Ghana VPA Brief 2009). The VPA begins with an informal discussion between the European Commission and the partner country, whereby the partner country is asked to consider entering into such an agreement, after which follows a negotiation among the stakeholders in the partner country. Upon the partner country’s agreement, the formal negotiation process begins, whereby a definition of legality and further measures regarding how to achieve production and trade of legal timber are negotiated. Negotiations should eventually result in the signing and ratifying of a bilateral VPA, after which follows a ‘transitional phase’ to set up technical and policy tools to ensure the proper implementation of the VPA.

Finally, with the ratification of the VPA, the agreement becomes a binding law for both sides—the EU countries and the concerned partner country.

1.4 Beyond illegal logging, legality, and law enforcement: legal pluralism and barriers to legality The international policy debate on illegal logging is largely centred around the following issues: the harvesting of timber, timber legality, the timber trade and the social, environmental and economic impacts of illegal logging at the global scale. The empirical research, however, reminds us that any comprehensive strategy to address the phenomenon of forest illegality should embrace the larger context and the complex nature of the phenomenon at the local scale. Fieldwork-based research shows that illegal logging at the local level is hardly a simple case of criminal behaviour but rather a complex socioeconomic and political system that includes multiple dimensions and stakeholders—from the local population to government authorities (Contreras-Hermosilla 2003, Richards et al.

2003, Casson and Obidzinski 2007, Darko-Obiri and Damnyag 2011, Palo and Lehti 2012).

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