Cocoa beans drying in the sun in a village in Kakum National Park, Ghana
Ghana lost 75 percent of its forest cover between 1900 and 2010, and 2 percent of its forests continue to disappear every year. The conversion of forests to other land uses is the biggest driver of this deforestation, with agriculture estimated to be responsible for half of all clearances.
However, the legislative framework governing the country’s forests wasn’t designed with widespread conversion in mind. Regulations are increasingly outdated, creating a lack of clarity that is fuelling illegality and damaging forests, according to environmental law firm Client Earth.
The study found that illegal mining and agricultural activities are taking place in forest reserves with impunity. For example, Ghana has for years experienced widespread illegality in the conversion of forest reserves for cocoa production. A lack of coordination between different ministries makes it difficult for regulators to enforce laws. As a result, “farmers and miners working at all scales in or near forest reserves are often not caught and punished for illegally encroaching on forests,” the study concludes.