The 2010 Annual Transparency Report Card has recommended to stakeholders to lend support in ensuring transparent and accountable forest governance in the management of Ghana’s natural forest resources for present and future generations.
A statement signed by Wilberforce Laate, Deputy Executive Director, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), named some of the stakeholders as the Forestry Commission, District Assemblies, traditional authorities and civil society organizations.
It explained the 2010 Annual Transparency Report Card was the second emanating from the implementation of a four–year project called “Making the Forest Sector Transparent,” which was started in 2009.
The statement said the project was aimed at supporting civil society in some resource-rich countries namely Cameroun, Ghana, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa and Peru, Ecuador and Guatemala in South America, to engage policy makers and advocate for accountable forest governance.
“The purpose of this report card is to determine what information is or is not available in the public domain, to show how different groups involved in the forestry sector can use this information to improve the transparency of how forest resources are managed in Ghana and to support local environment and human rights campaigners to monitor transparency and advocate on forestry issues of importance to local communities”, the statement added.
The statement said a questionnaire was administered for the 2010 report from July to September 2010 for different stakeholder groups participating in six districts – three in the Brong–Ahafo Region (Sunyani Municipal, Goaso and Dormaa) and three in the Western Region (Tarkwa Nsuaem, Wassa Amenfi East and Juabeso).
“The questionnaire was simplified into a common format for all groups and the number of participants engaged in the exercise increased from 231 in 2009 to 323 in 2010”, it stated.
It showed low public awareness on issues pertaining to forestry issues, stressing, “for example 80 per cent of all respondents are not aware of either Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) or Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
“The report highlighted that though the Forestry Commission has provided information through its website on these initiatives there has been a delay in updating the website on recent developments”, the statement noted.
The report further said, “with regards to access to decision making processes, there are no legally recognized mechanisms that exist for public participation in decision making, however, in 2010 several platforms provided some limited opportunities for citizens input into policy discussion including the National Forest Forum and the Annual Environment and Natural Resources Sector Summit that reviewed performance of the sector as part of the Natural Resource and Environment Governance (NREG) sector support programme”.
The statement added: “There have not been dramatic changes in the issues of transparency in the forest sector, but noted some improvements over the 2009 findings, notable amongst them is the opening up of space by the Forestry Commission to Civil Society to dialogue and engage in different issues in the forest sector”.
Other areas the 2010 Transparency Report Card touched on included land and forest tenure, fiscal regime (tax collection and redistribution) and resource allocation.