By: Fred Yaw Sarpong
Stakeholders in the forestry sector in Ghana have asked for proposals to cater for the tree tenure and benefit sharing scheme in the country.
A draft report from a consultant tasked by the Forestry Commission (FC) to assess the benefit of sharing trees stated that concerning naturally occurring trees on reserve, the dominant view was that the existing arrangement be maintained.
However, mechanisms have to be put in place to facilitate the effective and efficient implantation of Social Responsibility Agreement (SRA) and the disbursement of benefits. “A new preferred arrangement in relation to wildlife is the proposal for the institution of an SRA-like benefit flow for Wildlife areas to communities fringing the wildlife reserve,” the report mentioned.
On naturally occurring trees off-reserve with regard to trees on farms, the report said the general preference was for the State to keep off the benefits or revenue accruing from the sale of such trees.
It is proposed that 100% of benefits from nurtured trees should go to the Landlord and Abunu/Abusa (depending on the arrangement between the landlord and the tenant farmer) if nurtured by a tenant farmer.
“In relation to Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs), dedicated forests and sacred groves, there was a consensus that the state should allow the governing institutions around them to have responsibility, making sure that the management plans of the dedicated forests, the constitution of the CREMA and the customary rules of the sacred groves be used as the basis for the tenurial arrangement,” the stated.
For trees in Secondary Forests (Fallow) it was proposed that as the preferred option, ownership and management rights and full benefits should flow to traditional authority and landowners.
With regards to planted trees off reserve, according to the report there were numbers of permutation being proposed.
The draft report suggested that whereas the middle zone preferred 40% to FC, 40% to farmer, 15% to landowner and 5% to community for trees planted in on-reserves. , basically because of the preponderance of the MTS, the southern and northern zones preferred 90% to the investor/farmer, 2% to FC, 6% to landowner and 2% to community.
The report also said that the stakeholders argued that in order to improve benefit sharing for the different categories of tree management there should be equity, efficiency and effectiveness in sharing the benefits.
“Ensuring that benefits reach those who contribute to a particular resource and create the right incentives for them to continue doing so in the long term; ensuring that the benefit sharing mechanism maximizes benefits on each unit of input and delivering benefits in a reasonable amount of time; and ensuring that benefits are shared among all legitimate actors in a manner that is widely perceived as fair,” the report mentioned.
The Concessions Act, 1962 (Act 124), vests timber resources and naturally occurring timber trees in the President of the Republic of Ghana on behalf of the People of Ghana. Through the vesting of timber resources and the management of forest resources on behalf of the resource owners in the State, forest resource owning communities eventually assumed they had lost their ownership rights to the state.
Under the legal framework of Ghana on these rights, Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees right to own property and Chapter 21 of the 1992 Constitution further prescribes the legal framework for the ownership of land and natural resources.
Furthermore, in Ghana, the ownership regime for lands and natural resources interrelate. For instance Public lands are vested in the president on behalf of and in trust for the people of Ghana. The Constitution further establishes the Lands Commission to manage public lands and other lands vested in the President.