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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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Farmers use fires, for various activities, including farming (e.g. small-scale land clearance, and traditional slash and burn agriculture), hunting for bushmeat, and cultural practices.

After devastating wildfires in 1982/1983, Ghana adopted number of legal and policy instruments concerning bushfire management (WMP 2011). The current law regulating bushfires is the 1990 Control and Prevention Bushfire Act (CPBA 1990). This law decentralised the regulation of bushfires to district level. Thus, there is a fire sub-committee under each District Assembly, which enacts by-laws (set of rules and regulatory measures) to ensure prevention, control and monitoring of bushfires, at the district level. These bushfire by-laws generally encompasses: prohibition of early cultivation and associated burning in the dry season, prohibition of using fire in forests or farmlands, for any purpose in the dry season, and obligation to make fire belts and attend the fire, in agricultural practices. ‘Bushfire prevention rule’, as defined in this research, refers to legal requirement to follow these regulatory measures.

3.4 Sources of non-compliance in forestry (Article III and IV)

As discussed in the introduction, the high levels of non-compliance with forest regulation are documented in many countries. This is increasingly becoming a global forest policy issue. The current efforts to understand the sources of non-compliance in forestry and illegal logging (e.g. Contreras-Hermosilla and Peter 2005, World Bank 2006, Blaser 2010, Palo and Lehti 2012) emphasises the role of socio-economic and governance issues, such as enforcement capacities, corruption, factors related to global market and trade. However, the existing theoretical and empirical knowledge from other fields (e.g. law compliance in fisheries) dealing with individual compliance behaviour, motivations and factors that influence that behaviour, in the case of forestry, are presently unexplored.

One of the main constraints impeding the empirical research on compliance in forestry is the absence of an adequate theoretical and analytical framework for the study of forest law compliance. Different schools of thought approach the issue of compliance from different perspectives, emphasising for instance its economic (Becker 1968), social (Cialdini and Trost 1998), institutional (Ostrom 1990), and psychological (Tyler 1990, Tyler and Jost 2007) dimensions. A consistent research program on compliance behaviour requires an interdisciplinary and comprehensive analytical framework, where the overlaps as well as tensions between the multiple, economic, social and behavioural theories, are taken into consideration. A related challenge is application of general theories of rule compliance to the field of forestry and development of an appropriate theoretical and analytical framework. With this objective in mind, the final PhD Article IV emerged. It integrates the known sources of non-compliance in forestry with theoretical reviews to present a multiple set of causal factors that drive individual compliance behaviour in the forest sector.


4.1 Thesis framework The original motivation for this research was to understand the impacts of the implementation of the FLEGT VPA and associated forest law enforcement on forest communities’ livelihoods in Ghana. Consequently, Article I explored the concept of livelihoods in the VPA negotiation process and aimed at untangling the potential impacts of VPA implementation on forest communities’ livelihoods. Two key findings from the Article largely shaped the direction of the subsequent research; first, “the livelihood of small scale farmers is among the most vulnerable”, and second, “the bundle of rights and powers, access, tenure, participation and benefit sharing, among others, are most relevant and most likely to shape the impacts of law enforcement initiatives on livelihoods”.

Considering that these aspects are defined in the forest rules and laws, the subsequent research focused on farmers and their compliance with forest rules. Article II assessed farmers’ forest values and the implications of these values for farmers’ law compliance behaviour; Article III assessed farmers’ compliance behaviour and the factors that influence that behaviour. The results from Articles II and III indicate a need for an analytical framework for forest law compliance, which would help structure and underpin the numerous individual and contextual factors that are likely to influence compliance with forest rules. Finally, to respond to this need, Article IV suggests an analytical tool for the study of forest law compliance. Figure 1 positions the individual articles in the research and highlights the interconnections among the results. The major concepts and theories employed at each stage of the research are provided in brackets.

Figure 1. Overview of study design, from the original motivation to the connections among the results.

4.2 Research design Methodologically, this research can be described as an exploratory case study that uses quantitative and qualitative methods to study the phenomena of interest within their contexts (Yin 2003). In other words, it studies the phenomena of forest law compliance and livelihoods within the larger contexts of forest governance and farmers’ rights to forests in Ghana. The study uses previously established theoretical frameworks (e.g., law compliance theory, the sustainable livelihood framework) to identify initial propositions and variables, y, which inform the research and the research questions (e.g., compliance behaviour depends on a variety of factors, including instrumental incentives, norms, and legitim legitimacy). However, the research does not use theory to model reality and it does not aim to strictly test the validity of theoretical variables through research and observation. Therefore, the case study cannot be described as purely deductive or purely induct inductive (Creswell 2009). This approach has been described as ‘abductive reasoning’ (Alasuutari 1998); meaning that it aims to collect new observations and—by combining and contrasting them with the initial by theoretical propositions (also known as a dialogue between theory and empirical findings)—generate new insights, explanations and propositions.

Data collection and data analysis are performed using both quantitative (i.e., questionnaires and statistical tests) and qualitative (i.e., review of documents, interviews and content analysis) research methods (Creswell 2007, Hancock and Mueller 2010).

Similarly, the interpretation of data and results is performed using different theoretical standpoints. The research can therefore also be described as methodological and theoretical triangulation, as it involves a “between-method approach” at different stages of research (Seale 1999:54).

4.2.1 Data collection and fieldwork

Data for this study were collected through a structured questionnaire (for Article I) and semi-structured face-to-face interviews (for Articles II and III). In addition, a literature review of published and unpublished documents was conducted. The questionnaire collected data on various issues related to livelihoods and poverty alleviation in the context of the EU FLEGT VPA (Appendix II). The questionnaire was sent via email to individual experts from NGOs, governmental organisations, research and academia, who closely followed and/or were directly involved in the VPA negotiation. In total, 20 respondents returned the questionnaire. The majority of respondents were from research and academic organisations (10), followed by the non-governmental (5), governmental (4) and industry (1) sectors. In addition, five emails were received with free-form responses and insights on the surveyed issues. The survey was conducted during September and October 2009.

Data for Articles II and III were collected using semi-structured interviews (Creswell 2007). Interviews were conducted with individual farmers, heads of households, in 10 selected communities. The communities were randomly selected from the list of farming communities near the forest reserves. The lists were obtained from the forest district offices. Before the fieldwork commenced, in each community, the village chief, a committee chairman or an elder was approached, asked for fieldwork permission, and when possible, interviewed. In addition, six pre-test interviews were conducted in three communities. For each community, the total number of households and its approximate boundaries and shape were known. An in-situ interview plan was made, where the approximate shape and boundaries of the community as well as the locations of households for interviews were defined. The interview plan aimed at covering approximately 10% of the community’s households, located in different parts and units of the community. The interview plan was followed as closely as possible; households that most closely coincided with the specified locations were approached and their heads were subsequently interviewed. In total, 226 heads of households were selected and interviewed. The sample includes 9.3% of the heads of households in the 10 selected communities. The fieldwork and data collection phase was organised and aided by one senior scientist from the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Lawrence Damnyag. Interviews were conducted by two fieldwork assistants from FORIG and by the author. With a few exceptions where the interviews were conducted in English, most of the interviews were conducted in Twi (the local dialect), with narratives recorded in English. The fieldwork (preliminary interviews, pre-tests and interviews) was conducted from April to July 2010. Each interview took between 1 and 1.5 hours to complete.

To promote accurate reporting, respondents were informed of the topic and aim of the research in advance and could choose to participate or decline their participation in the survey. They were assured that the research team has no relation to the forestry department.

None of the approached potential interviewees declined to participate in the survey, allowing for a 100% response rate.

4.2.2 Study area (Article II and III) Ghana covers a total area of 23.5 million hectares, with an estimated population of 25.2 million in 2012 (CIA 2011). The study area is located in the High Forest Zone (HFZ) of Ghana, which constitutes the southern, most forested one-third of the country. The HFZ covers a total land area of about 8.5 million ha (Forestry Department Ghana 1999), of which 1.6 million are gazetted as forest reserves (Kotey et al. 1998, Affum-Baffoe 2002, Boakye and Affum-Baffoe 2008). In addition to forest reserves, forest resources in the HFZ are also found in the areas outside of the reserves, in the so-called off-reserves. This study is conducted in the off-reserves, which account for approximately 5.482 million hectares (Boateng et al. 2009). The off-reserves comprise a mixture of agricultural lands (farmlands) and a significant amount of naturally occurring timber trees and patches of natural forest (Amanor 1996, Boateng et al. 2009). This area is important for timber production, as well as for the livelihoods of farming communities who are settled around the fringes of the forest reserves (Boateng et al. 2009).

The study is conducted in ten farming communities, spread across the following forest districts: Dormaa, Juaso and Begoro (Appendix III); which belong to Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern administrative region, respectively. The study sites are located in different ecological zones; Dormaa is in dry semi-deciduous zone, Juaso is in semi-deciduous zone, and Begoro in moist-semi-deciduous zone. The forests in the study area are considered tropical forest, with generally high species diversity, multiple canopy layers, and slow growth rates for mature forest (Wagner and Cobbinah 1993). Despite the ecological differences, the economic, socio-political and cultural conditions in the study area are similar. The forests in the study area are subject to heavy timber exploitation, raising concerns for deforestation and illegal logging (Marfo et al. 2009).There has been a rapid change of forest policy and legislation (Opoku et al. 2005); yet, the forest and tree tenure system remain unclear and contesting (Acheampong and Marfo 2009).

Table 1. Demographic and socio-economic information of respondents (Article II and III) N=226.

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4.3 Materials and methods adopted in specific Articles The article discusses the concept of livelihoods in the VPA negotiation process in Ghana and explores potential implications of the FLEGT VPA for forest communities’ livelihoods.

A literature review of forest communities’ livelihoods and livelihood assessment methods was conducted. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire (Appendix II). Closedand open-ended questions were used to identify (i) the livelihood-related issues covered in the VPA, (ii) the social groups whose livelihoods are most likely to be affected by FLEGT VPA implementation, and (iii) the potential impacts on the communities’ livelihoods. In addition, using an open-ended question, respondents were asked to provide general and more descriptive information about the issues, including (i) the concept of livelihoods and poverty alleviation within the FLEGT VPA in Ghana; (ii) the negotiation of the FLEGT VPA in Ghana (e.g., stakeholders’ views, policy objectives); and (iii) the final FLEGT VPA between the EU and Ghana (e.g., main elements, benefits, social issues and objectives).

Qualitative data were analysed using manual coding (Creswell 2007) and manual content analysis (Silverman 2006), whereas for quantitative data, arithmetic means were calculated.

4.3.1 Materials and methods in Article I

The article discusses the concept of livelihoods in the VPA negotiation process in Ghana and explores potential implications of the FLEGT VPA for forest communities’ livelihoods.

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