TGCC Brief: Tree Tenure and Benefit Sharing in Cocoa Growing Areas of Ghana

Discussions on tree tenure law and policy in Ghana revolve around the exploitation of timber with little policy debate on tenure of other forest products. This brief examines existing policies on timber exploitation and the reforms that are currently being proposed. It is informed by consultant reports commissioned by the Forestry Commission (FC) and tentative findings garnered from a pilot undertaken under the Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) Program in Nyame Nnae, a cocoa farming community in the Asankrangwa district of Ghana. This brief argues that Ghana’s timber policy has produced unintended outcomes and has never been aligned with the interests of customary landowners whose land management decisions have a direct impact on forest cover. Reforms being proposed skirt the main cause of the problem, create additional administrative hurdles for farmers and the FC, and do not address perverse incentives that work against landowner and farmer interests. This brief argues that to effectively create a balanced and sustainable sector, tree tenure law and policy needs to be simplified and re-aligned with the interests of landowners and farmers by transferring rights to all natural and planted trees to customary landowners off-reserve.