Documentation:Open Case Studies/FRST522/The impact of the modified taungya system on Ghana's forests - Relatively positive, or otherwise?
Deforestation and forest degradation in Ghana has been on the forward trajectory from the colonial era until date. We consume more trees resources and forestlands than we can sustainably replenish or renew. Beyond that, there was excessive unilateralism and centralization of power in the management of Ghana’s forest resources by the government to the exclusion of the local communities and people who fringe the forest resources. This brought about continued forest destruction and degradation. It became necessary therefore, that the old management policies would be renewed, by which there would be a devolution of power and to ensure stakeholder inclusivity. Eventually in 2002, the Modified Taungya System was introduced to replace the old one (the Taungya System) that was introduced in the 1930s and was suspended in 1984. It was an improvement initiative but lacked a provision for a start-to-finish inclusivity and timber benefit sharing agreement with stakeholders. This literature endeavors to evaluate (in comparative terms) the impact of the Modified Taungya System (MTS) since its introduction in Ghana – whether it has contributed positively or otherwise to the forestry of Ghana; and even if the contribution has been positive so far, is it to the maximum expectation for its promulgation? And if not, what can be the “booster steps” to achieve that? 
Ghana and its forest
Situated along the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana is a West African country of few degrees north of the equator. It is flanked by Burkina Faso at the north, Ivory Coast at the west, Togo at the east, and the Atlantic Ocean at the south. Ghana is roughly between longitudes 0o and 3o west and latitudes 5o and 11o north of the equator. Ghana has a land area of 22.7 million hectares and a forest cover of about 28%. Half of the country is below 152 meters above sea level. The climate of Ghana is generally tropical - warm and dry in the southeast, hot and humid in the southwest, and hot and dry in the north. Ghana’s population is about 30 million now. It grows at 3% increment, with 57% of the population been youth (age under 25); and 49% been female.
Ghana has two types of forest reserves: The on-reserve forests (natural reserves, or simply called reserves) and off-reserve forests (including farmlands and private plantations). The on-reserve forests are fully vested in the State. Off-reserve forests include any other forest apart from the on-reserve ones, such as communal forests, community plantations, sacred groves, private (individual and institutional) plantations. Ghana had about 34% forest covering its total land area at the beginning of the twentieth century. The colonial administration started forest reservation in 1927, and aimed at ensuring the reservation of 11% of the country’s total land area. Ghana now has a total of 282 forest reserves and 15 wildlife protected areas, which is over 38,000 km2, making 16% of the total land area. The main aim of the reservation program was to ensure the protection of substantial areas of forest.
Forestry contributes to Ghana’s economy. In the 1980s, timber was the third-largest export commodity after cocoa and gold, accounting for 5–7% of the total GDP. The forestry sector employed over 70,000 people. Over 2 million people (14% of the population) gain direct livelihoods from the forest. Forests also provide 75% of Ghana’s energy requirements. The total forest area in Ghana in 2000 was 8.9 million hectares. Out of this forest cover, 4.7 million hectares was lost from 2001–2015. Ghana’s forests have three main ecological zones created based on climatic factors, notably rainfall and temperature. The:
- High Forest Zone (HFZ) - The HFZ is in the southwestern part of Ghana, with an area of about 8.2 million hectares (comprising about 31% of Ghana’s land). Ghana’s HFZ has relative humidity that is always high (often above 85% humidity). Its annual temperature lies in the range 25ºC–27ºC, and its annual rainfall can be up to 2200 mm. It falls within the biodiversity hotspot of the Upper Guinean forests of West Africa, and it is one of the 36 most important biodiversity areas in the world.
- Transitional Zone (TZ).
- Savannah Zone (SZ) - It is in the northern part of Ghana, and it covers about 15.7 million hectares (comprising about 62% of Ghana’s land). Greater part of the SZ has been cleared for agriculture.
Poverty and Feminism in Ghana
Ghana is a developing country, having a greater part of its rural citizenry in poverty with women been the highest. The term “feminization of poverty” has been used to refer to the statistics that the majority of the poor are women. Poverty means many things. Generally, it can be defined as the lack of means for a socially acceptable minimum standard of living needed to achieve a sustainable livelihood. Over 1 billion people live in poverty globally, with women been the majority, through gender inequality and violation of their fundamental human rights. Women in rural communities living below the poverty line rose higher (by 47%) than that for men (by 30%). The Government of Ghana (GOG) is committed to gender equality, and intends doing so in its National Poverty Reduction Program, having created the Ministry for Women and Children’s Affairs.
Agroforestry can strengthen the control of women over resources. If it is done right, more women and men can benefit from agroforestry practices. It is estimated that smallholder farmers with less than 5 ha of land, produce around 1⁄2 of the world’s total food today. Nevertheless many of them are living in poverty, and suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition.
Agroforestry in Ghana
Agroforestry is defined as the systems and technologies whereby about 10% tree cover is deliberately left or planted on the same land management unit as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. Estimates from 2004 suggests that about 1.2 billion people globally rely on agroforestry to help feed themselves and their families. Most of the current expansion occurs in the tropics, where 80% of all land transformed into agricultural land used to be forested. Globally, almost 50% of the land surface suitable for vegetation (forests for instance) has been converted to agricultural land. Agroforestry as a land use system can contribute to achieving at least nine out of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG). Smallholder farms provide livelihoods for almost 2 billion women and men, and are key to ensuring food security for many in the world living in poverty. Forests hold more than 75% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Turning forests into agricultural land is the major reason for biodiversity losses in tropical regions, where most of the world’s biodiversity reserves are found. Agroforestry, if done right, can lead to less reliance on one crop while improving soil fertility, which are important aspects for increasing food security. Agroforestry can increase biodiversity, as trees in agroforestry systems provide a habitat for multiple species, and provide a “buffer zone” against acts of deforestation, allowing species migration across landscapes. It can also deliver ecosystem functions such as air quality, microclimate maintenance, soil erosion checks. Ghana has greater number of people in Agriculture.
In Ghana, agriculture employs 70% of the population. Ghanaian women, unlike the men, usually grow food in subsistent basis for home consumption. This implies that men would be able to generate higher incomes than women would.
Agricultural activities in Ghana are not only informal and subsistent but also rely on unsustainable “expansionist farming” approaches for yield increment.
Land Tenure Rights in Ghana
The 1948 forest policy birthed the creation and management of permanent forest estates. Although the policy was well meaning, it had commercial timber export production as the main motivation. The local people were neglected in that the process of reservations of the forestlands by the colonial masters ignored the traditional tenure systems. In 1948, Ghana’s population was estimated to be around 4.2 million. However, with the growth in population and its accompanying increase in demand for forest land for agriculture, together with advancements in science and technology, inclusivity, and growth in global awareness of ecological importance of the forest in terms of biodiversity and climate stabilization, the underlying justification for the earlier policy no longer appeared applicable. It became obvious that most of the provisions in the old policy could no longer adequately deal with the totality of the emerging challenges. This led to a negative attitude to reserves among the population, especially in forest fringe communities. Passage of the current Forest and Wildlife Policy of 1994 led to some progress regarding stakeholder collaboration. However, it still did not solve the ownership challenge regarding trees outside forest reserves and on farmlands. The lack of clear ownership status called for a policy review. The Forest and Wildlife Policy of Ghana aims at conservation and sustainable development of the nation's forest and wildlife resources for maintenance of environmental quality and perpetual flow of optimum benefits to all segments of society. The forest sector is a potential towards contributing to sustainable forest management (SFM) and poverty reduction for socio-economic development. But it faces challenges related to forest ownership, resource tenure and the lack of effective participation from resource owners and local communities in forest management decision-making. This lack of participation is due to inadequate incentive structures to ensure SFM.
It is recognized globally that before forests can contribute to improved livelihood of forest-dependent people and communities, attention must be paid to security of community tenure rights over forests. Land resources in Ghana are governed to a large extent by statutory and customary laws.
Until 1994, Ghana did not have detailed clearly defined forest policies specifying goals, objectives and strategies for development of its forest, as well as the future direction of the timber industry. At that time moreover, lack of legal sanctions and low fines when culprits were taken to court encouraged illegal forest harvesting. Furthermore, the alienation of forest communities from policy formulation contributed to its failure although such communities were expected to help in protecting the forests.
Forest- and land-tenure systems in Ghana were established by decree of government and executed by concessionaires. It has resulted in conflicts with local communities, even though that was not the intention. This is because customs and native land tenure rights vary from clan to clan, tribe to tribe. For majority of these areas, the communities’ interests were not taken into account before the establishment of a protected area (forest reserve), and the government forcefully obtained land from local tribes for state-owned reserves. A study of the legal framework for forest reserves in Ghana indicates that most of the forest reserves are owned by corporate customary stools or skins. Customary law provides no restriction on extracting and using a tree from land. However, national legislation prohibits the destruction or sale of commercial timber trees without approval, and individuals have no right to sell timber trees even from their land. Moreover, local people do not receive a part of the royalties (so to say), and have no legal right to be informed of or to refuse to, allow felling on their land by timber-concession holders.
The Forest Decree of 1974 sets many restrictions on communities’ use of forest reserves. It imposes criminal sanctions for any violation of the forest laws. It stipulates that the collection or extraction of non-timber forest products for domestic use, which most communities rely on for their existence are permitted, but huge quantity (commercial exploitation) is not. A closer look shows that the laws governing them have stifled the local land-tenure systems and given local communities a disincentive to protect reserves. These procedures fail to properly take into account community rights and benefits for local or village people near the reserves, having alienated them. Forest-fringe communities and farmers therefore had no incentives to protect, manage, or invest in the resource and its sustainability. For off-reserves too, the lack of tree tenure and inadequate incentive and compensation to farmers by concessionaires upon damage to farms, have not only created discouragement to protecting timber trees but also a strong incentive to destroy them before the concessionaire can harvest. Many landowners and farmers would rather negotiate secretly with chain-saw operators to have the trees on their lands illegally harvested for a fee, than allow the legitimate concessionaires to harvest the trees and pay little compensation tokens. This is more because chainsaw operators would fell and saw the timber into lumber, hire laborers to carry them to a vantage place where they can be loaded onto trucks, instead of the concessionaire’s heavy duty equipment. The deforestation trend alluded to the fact that, policy intervention was highly needful in order to save Ghana’s forest, hence the introduction of the Modified Taungya System, which promotes massive community involvement and collaboration towards the growth and management of the forest.
All trees in Ghana belongs to the government, and one needs his approval to fell it for any purpose of use, whether commercial or otherwise. However, the government holds it in stewardship or trust to the landowners – stool and skin lands. For that purpose, the government gives them a fixed percentage amount as royalties for every tree it sells as an appreciation and acknowledgement to their contributions in diverse ways to the cost of forest management and timber regulation. That is the stumpage fee.
- For On-reserve (natural) forests, the total stumpage is shared as follows
# FSD - 60%
# Stool lands - 10%
# The remaining 30% is divided as follows
- District assembly - 55%
- Traditional council - 20%
- Stool landowner - 25%
2. For Off-reserve forests, the total stumpage is shared as follows
# FSD – 40%
# Stool landowner – 60%
Deforestation in Ghana
In deforestation, a forest or stand of trees are cut, cleared or removed from land, and the said space is converted to a different form of use (usually a non-forest type). The major causes of deforestation in Ghana have been
- Fires: Following the drought in 1982/83, fire altered the structure and composition of 30% of the semi-deciduous forest zone of Ghana and led to the loss of 4 million m3 of high-quality timber.
- Over-logging: The annual cut is 1.6–2.5 times higher than the annual sustainable cut
- Shifting cultivation: Accounts for up to 70% of Ghana’s deforestation
- Demand for fuelwood and charcoal: Accounts for 75% of all energy consumed in Ghana
Ghana has initiated a number of tree-planting, environmental-education, and research programs. A number of villages have expressed interest in establishing agroforestry projects. Ghana’s forest zone at the beginning of 21st century covered 8.2 million ha. But now, it is reduced to about 1.7 million ha. Pressure on the remaining forests has increased because of illegal logging operations and the proliferation of (illegal) wood-processing plants. At the current rate of wood consumption in Ghana, the remaining fragmented forest patches will likely disappear soon unless serious changes are made immediately to combat these threats. Forestry has traditionally played an important role in Ghana’s economy. Over 90% of Ghana’s forests have been logged since the 1940s. Ghana’s primary forest practically disappeared a decade ago. Ghana’s remaining forest cover has been estimated at about 15 000 km2. During 1981–1985, Ghana’s annual rate of deforestation was around 1.3%, but current estimates set it close to 2%. Ghana’s forest area that was deforested between 1972 and 2000 is estimated to be 307 km2, and at an estimated annual rate of about 3%. Over the years, the 8.2 million hectares area of high forest that existed at the turn of the last century was reduced to an estimated 2.46 million hectares in 2000, representing a loss of about 70%.
A World Bank consultancy team reviewing the forestry sector performance in 2001 remarked that “While Ghana has been among the first countries in Africa to recognize the role of local people in resource management, the debate on community participation in forest management has increasingly shifted towards rhetoric in the past several years. Current work by specialized forest institutions seem to focus on sharpening instruments for implementation of current regulations, overlooking the fact that existing regulations do not adequately reflect stated participatory management policies and benefit sharing arrangements. Even Social Responsibility Agreements (SRA6), the most advanced and specific framework instrument for communities to negotiate with logging companies their in-kind contribution of local infrastructure, leave communities with very little control and negotiating power”. This showed there was a high need for decentralization and devolution of power to achieve sustainability.
The International Institute for Environment and Development reported on problems in the forestry sector, such as:
- Repeated logging of commercially exploited areas without allowing the forest to recover;
- The very small size of some concessions, which makes proper management difficult
- The disregard for felling cycles (25 years, instead of the recommended 40 years).
- High levels of waste in timber processing and inefficient extraction methods result in a final lumber volume that is only 25–40% of the total log volume extracted.
During 2012–2015, Ghana recorded a marked increase in deforestation; and according to the World Bank, Ghana’s GDP shrunk from 47 Billion USD in 2013 to 37 billion USD in 2015. The economic downturn made the country go to the IMF for a boost financially. This period was characterized by a high rate of unemployment. Many institutions got most of their employees laid off, with no new employment opportunities for the already unemployed. These economic challenges contributed to driving deforesting activities across the country through unsustainable agricultural expansion, illegal logging and illegal mining (popular called “galamsey”). It is worth noting, that the expansion of agricultural and industrial sectors of Ghana brought some economic growth, but at a cost to the (forest) environment. Ghana has lost over 60% of its primary forest cover from 1950 to the turn of the last century (which is about 2.7 million hectares). Ghana’s deforestation rate has been approximately 3.51% per year (311,879.8 ha/year) since 2001. Recent years have seen marked increase in the deforestation rate. From 2012 to 2015, the annual deforestation rate in Ghana rose to 524,489 ha per annum.
Why Modified Taungya System?
As a Southeast Asian and a Burmese (now Myanmar) word it literally means “hill cultivation”. By extension, Taungya involved the method of planting forest trees in combination with food crops in the same space of land. Analyzing the definition, it closely fits the description for the English word “Agroforestry”.
The taungya system (TS) which was launched by the GoG (Government of Ghana) in 1930s essentially consists of growing agricultural crops along with timber species (seedlings) during the early years of its establishment on degraded forestlands of the Forestry Commission (FC). Per the agreement, the farmers are required to tend the forestry seedlings together with their agricultural crops until 3 years after which the timber species would grow closed canopy and so the farmers would leave the land, and that was all there was. That is, the TS had no provision for the farmers to benefit from the planted trees after their maturation and harvesting by the Forestry Commission (FC). With this in mind, and knowing that they would be asked to leave the land when the tree canopy is closed after 3 years times, most farmers deliberately killed the tree crops so they would continue farming on the land. This led to the abolishment of the TS in 1984, and the introduction of the Modified Taungya System (MTS). The intention for the MTS was to kill two birds with one stone:
- To produce mature commercial timber in a relatively short time, and
- To address the shortage of farmlands in communities bordering forest reserves.
The MTS is similar to the TS in all respects, except few additional provisions made for the farmers and other local stakeholders to benefit from the revenues from the harvested timber trees by the FC.
Modified Taungya system (MTS) has been assessed, that without support, its future for plantation expansion exercises is sustainable-unlikely. Taungya system (TS) was introduced in Ghana in the 1930s and revised in 2002 to the Modified Taungya System (MTS) under the National Forest Plantation Development Programme (NFPDP). Instead of being excluded after 3 years as in the old TS, farmers are entitled to the MTS plots until the tree crops mature. The aim was to restore degraded forestlands and create livelihood opportunities for forest-fringe communities at the same time. Farmers are given access to degraded forest reserve areas for tree planting with integration of food crops until tree canopy closure. The farmers are entitled to 100% benefit from the agricultural crops proceeds.
There are several reasons for collaboration, or why governments collaborate with citizenry.
- A collaborative approach is often deployed as a rational response to a crisis in forest management and constitutes an acceptance that, under current arrangements, sustainable forest management is unworkable. Especially in instances of large, public forest resources where there is disaffection or conflict, collaboration is seen as a way out of stalemate. In such moments, the rationale for governments to collaborate can be to address the social injustices that undermine sustainable forest management.
- Governments collaborate to tap into the strengths of other partners,
- Governments collaborate to share responsibilities of management of the forest resource
- Governments collaborate to reduce costs.
Other benefits from natural resources management collaboration include
- Communities living nearby have intimate knowledge of the forest, are able to monitor and police access, and respond rapidly to threats such as wildfires.
- NGOs can be skilled providers of social science expertise, such as training, facilitation and social surveys.
- The private sector brings investment and links to markets through re-negotiations.
The MTS is a form of Collaborative Forest Management (CFM). The social and political pressures by a wide range of actors can initiate tenure forms. This gave rise to different models of community forestry practices in which local communities became an integral part of forest management with several rights and responsibilities devolved to them. In Ghana, the response to these pressures started in the early 1990s. Because it became obvious that without effective community participation, sustainable forest management would remain an illusion. There was a need for a reform of the old Taungya System for the new Modified Taungya System because:
- Most farmers deliberately killed planted seedlings to extend their tenure over 3 years, because the only incentive for the farmers was their continued access to or stay on the allocated land
- Most farmers failed to weed around the tree seedlings, thereby retarding their growth.
- Some farmers extended their farms to other degraded and undegraded areas, which were not allocated to them for Taungya
- Most farmers planted food crops, which were incompatible with the tree crops.
So in 1994, a new Forest and Wildlife Policy was promulgated, and it emphasized the need for a shift in government policy from authoritarian control to stakeholder involvement with some guideline principles such as:
To enhance the rights of people to have access to natural resources for maintaining a basic standard of living, and to promote the importance of appropriate and efficient land use, security and land tenure for sustainable development.
Forest- and land-tenure systems in Ghana were established by decree of government and executed by concessionaires. It has resulted in conflicts with local communities, even though that was not the intention. This is because customs and native land tenure rights vary from clan to clan, tribe to tribe. For majority of these areas, the communities’ interests were not taken into account before the establishment of a protected area (forest reserve), and the government forcefully obtained land from local tribes for state-owned reserves. A study of the legal framework for forest reserves in Ghana indicates that most of the forest reserves are owned by corporate customary stools or skins. Customary law provides no restriction on extracting and using a tree from land. However, national legislation prohibits the destruction or sale of commercial timber trees without approval, and individuals have no right to sell timber trees even from their land. Moreover, local people do not receive a part of the royalties (so to say), and have no legal right to be informed of or to refuse to, allow felling on their land by timber-concession holders. The Forest Decree of 1974 sets many restrictions on communities’ use of forest reserves. It imposes criminal sanctions for any violation of the forest laws. It stipulates that the collection or extraction of non-timber forest products for domestic use, which most communities rely on for their existence are permitted, but huge quantity (commercial exploitation) is not. A closer look shows that the laws governing them have stifled the local land-tenure systems and given local communities a disincentive to protect reserves. These procedures fail to properly take into account community rights and benefits for local or village people near the reserves, having alienated them. Forest-fringe communities and farmers therefore had no incentives to protect, manage, or invest in the resource and its sustainability. For off-reserves too, the lack of tree tenure and inadequate incentive and compensation to farmers by concessionaires upon damage to farms, have not only created discouragement to protecting timber trees but also a strong incentive to destroy them before the concessionaire can harvest. Many landowners and farmers would rather negotiate secretly with chain-saw operators to have the trees on their lands illegally harvested for a fee, than allow the legitimate concessionaires to harvest the trees and pay little compensation tokens. This is more because chainsaw operators would fell and saw the timber into lumber, hire laborers to carry them to a vantage place where they can be loaded onto trucks, instead of the concessionaire’s heavy duty equipment. The deforestation trend alluded to the fact that, policy intervention was highly needful in order to save Ghana’s forest, hence the introduction of the Modified Taungya System, which promotes massive community involvement and collaboration towards the growth and management of the forest.
Stakeholders of The Modified Taungya System
A stakeholder of a forest resource is a person or group who has some level of interest in or “connectedness” to the resource, and is affected by what “happens” to the resource – positive or negative. The level of “connectedness” and “affectedness” vary from
- Subsistence dependency level,
- Cultural, traditional, spiritual, historical or ancestral affiliation level,
- Care and affection level,
- Economic level,
- Environmentalism oriented level,
- Loyalty and allegiance level, to just
- Recreational and aesthetic levels.
The degree of allegiance, loyalty, affectedness, connectedness or dependency on the resources tells whether the said individual is an “affected” stakeholder or an “interested” one.
Interested Stakeholders are similar to Affected Stakeholders in many forms (according to the list given above). They usually differ in the levels of:
- Subsistence – Affected stakeholders depend on the resource directly for livelihood, unlike the Interested stakeholders who might be on an employee’s payroll,
- Care/affection – Affected stakeholders show more care and emotional attachment to the resource
- Loyalty and allegiance – Affected stakeholders usually have “downward” allegiance and loyalty towards the resource (which is to the community and ancestors), whereas the interested stakeholder’s loyalty is to his employer
- Cultural/traditional/spiritual/historical/ancestral connectedness – This is because the affected stakeholders have time immemorial been living in this area, and often the names of the resources might be named in their language.
There are four (4) main stakeholders in Ghana’s Modified Taungya System (MTS). They are the:
- Forestry Commission (FC): They are the implementing agency through the Forest Service Division (FSD). It is responsible for the
- release and allocation of the degraded forest reserve lands for MTS
- seedling production decisions,
- type of tree and food crops to plant,
- training and supervising farmer groups.
- harvesting and marketing of the timber produce after maturation.
- Farmers or farmer groups: They are responsible for
- Preparing the land,
- Planting the tree and food crops,
- Maintaining them till maturity
- Securing the required funds, tools and labour; and sometimes
- Seedlings production when given the chance, so to create extra income
- Forest-fringe communities - These help in Managing and reporting threats of fire and theft (together with the farmers)
- Landowners: Traditional rulers, or Stools or Skins (as called in Northern Ghana).
- They assist in guaranteeing uninterrupted access to the land.
- They are symbols of chieftaincy, an important traditional authority in Ghana
- In their hands lies 78% of all Ghana’s lands (customary lands)
The performance of the scheme is impacted by the quality of partnership among the actors. All forest lands in Ghana are held in trust by the government, who manages them for the stool landowners.
Affected vs Interested Stakeholder groups of the MTS in Ghana
Government of Ghana (GoG)
Forestry Commission (FC)
Forest Services Division (FSD)
Equipment operators and drivers
Agricultural crop marketers/market
Stakeholder objectives and relative power.
This table shows the level of interest and power a stakeholder has in resource decision and policy making. James Mayers (2001) states that there are usually four (4) groups.
- High power/Importance but low interest/influence
- High power/Importance but high interest/influence
- Low power/Importance but high interest/influence
- Low power/Importance but low interest/influence
The “power” or “importance” stands for the ability of the stakeholder to influence decisions and policies regarding the resource use.
The “interest” or “influence” stands for the level of dependency and connectedness to the resource. It could be de facto or de jure
|High power, low interest
Government of Ghana (GoG)
Forest Services Division (FSD)
Forestry Commission (FC)
|High power, high interest
|Low power, low interest
Equipment operators and drivers
Agricultural crop marketers/market
|Low power, high interest
Modules of The Modified Taungya System.
The MTS basically has two (2) modules, but same key features,
- The National MTS coordinated by the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) of Ghana.
- The MTS under the Community Forestry Management Project (CFMP), and it is coordinated by the Forest Plantation Development Centre (FPDC) of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR).
Regulations on the Modified Taungya System.
The MTS has some regulations. These regulations encompass how to deal with breach of agreement, suspension and termination, penalties, transfer of rights, and dispute resolution. Interested farmers form MTS groups and establish Taungya Committee (TC) in the communities on whose lands the MTS is to be implemented, including filling out personal record forms (FC Agreement Schedule B). It is a legally-binding land lease between the farmers and the Forestry Commission (FC). The TC is headed by FC representative, and he is also responsible for:
- The allocation of degraded forest reserve plots to the MTS farmers
- Monitoring the performance of farmers and the FC
- Ensuring compliance of all parties to the contract, and
- Instituting sanctions and settling disputes.
- The TC representative again provides supporting and overseeing tasks including:
- Pegging the timber plants in rows
- Supervising the planting
- Making sure the farmer plants in the actual allotted plot
- Supervising nursery, and
- Sometimes supervising alternative farmer livelihood activities (extra income source).
All forest lands in Ghana are held in trust by the government, who manages them for the stool landowners.
Benefit sharing in the Modified Taungya System.
The MTS has yielded benefits. Per the agreement, all the agricultural produce (100%) belongs to the farmer as part of the short-term benefit. The harvested tree revenues benefit-sharing agreement is also distributed as follows
- FC - 40 %
- Farmers - 40 %
- Landowners (traditional rulers) -15%
- Forest fringe communities - 5%
The assurance of benefit from the timber revenues to a large extent determines farmers’ commitment to tree maintenance in the MTS, and even on the quality of the timber stands
The Modified Taungya System and national impact.
Modified Taungya System (MTS) has yielded environmental and socio-economic benefits to the nation since its inception. Between 2002 and 2008 alone, a total of 87,664 hectares of degraded forest were planted. To combat climate change, and preserve biodiversity, there is a need to develop agriculture systems that are truly sustainable in all aspects – social, economic and environmental. Sustainable “agro in forestry” (agroforestry) is a pathway towards that. The 1994 policy, on the other hand, aimed at the conservation and sustainable development of the nation’s forest and wildlife resources for the maintenance of environmental quality and a steady flow of optimum benefits to all segments of society. The forest sector has potential towards contributing to sustainable forest management (SFM) and poverty reduction for socio-economic development. Institutional arrangements have been established to address the complex problems associated with forest ownership, resource tenure, and their collective impacts on SFM and poverty reduction. The MTS which is currently being used in national reforestation projects in degraded and recuperating forest reserves has yielded several economic benefits and has impacted positively on livelihoods, from the immediate into the long-term. The benefits include the following
- More than 36,000 jobs are created annually for the minimum achieved planting target of 10,000 ha.
- Rural-urban immigration in search of work has reduced in Forest fringe communities
- 120,000 tonnes of food are produced annually from a minimum achieved planting target of 10,000 ha
- Improved economic well-being of plantation farmers through payments for clearing, peg-cutting, planting, maintenance, etc.
- Improved gender equality
- Participation without discrimination along gender lines – The benefit the male farmer receives is the same as that of the female counterpart. That is to say that both males and females have equal opportunities for financial improvement
- Reclaiming degraded forest cover – Estimated total area reforested/planted between 2002 and 2005 is about 61,401.90 ha. Annual planting target is 20,000 ha/year.
- Sustaining the future requirements of wood industries
- Ameliorating food shortages
- Reducing land scarcity
- Reducing poverty, as farmers are paid for services such as planting and tending
- Generating revenue for the country and stakeholders.
Challenges of the Modified Taungya System (MTS).
The MTS is not without a challenge. Since its commencement, the management of the MTS has encountered difficulties, including
- A lack of regular income from timber until tree harvesting – Although the farmers are entitled to the full agricultural produce from the food crop planted, the canopy closure after three (3) years makes no agricultural crop grows, and so their source of subsistence is cut
- Delay in signing MTS agreements with farmers
- Absence of a clear mechanism for sharing benefits among individual farmers
- Tree and crop species allowed under the MTS and farmers’ preferences – The farmers usually do not have a full say on which type of forest trees and agricultural crops to plant.
- Inadequate support and supervision and farm maintenance
- The resources of the farmers become limited as the plots allocated become more distant from their places of habitation / communication
- Vested interests of parties who are unwilling to devolve power to new forest management partners,
- ‘Community participation’ becoming vulnerable to capture by community elites
- Protagonists who promote collaboration for reasons completely other than those linked to advancing social justice.
Recommendations for the Modified Taungya System (MTS)
Looking at the literature reviewed and with my own experience as a Forest Range Manager and having seen the behaviors, attitudes constraints for myself, would want to recommend the following for the betterment of the MTS practiced here in Ghana.
- Income gap between canopy closure and tree harvesting – Farmers are ok from year one (1) to year three (3) when the planted tree crops have not formed canopy yet. Farmers still could grow and harvest their agricultural crops for home and market in this interval but not beyond that, after the canopy begins to close up on the food crops. This time lapse demotivates farmers to invest labour in tree farm maintenance in the meantime
- Openness and straightforwardness in signing MTS agreements with farmers – Many farmers complain about the delay in signing the document, not on their part as farmers but the Forestry Commission’s.
- A clear mechanism for benefit sharing among individual farmers – The farmers are to receive 40% of the tree revenue. The system must go further to clarify the details (breakdowns) of the 40% according to the size of farm (or number of trees) a farmer planted and took care of until maturity or harvesting. Each farmer must receive his/her 40% in relations to this, not more or less. Clear provision could be made for “next of kin’s” in case the farmer is not alive during the time of the benefit distribution.
- Great consideration could be given to farmer preference on which type of tree and crop species to plant – Most farmers usually complain about their not having a say in which type of crops to plant, especially on the forest trees type. This is because each locality or farming community is different in terms of its microclimatic and soil conditions, as well as the micro-market preferences, and which ones have the ready market.
- Availability of adequate support, supervision and farm maintenance mechanism – Stem size, quality and volume can be affected without adequate maintenance, such as weeding, pruning, thinning and pest control. All these have potential influence over the shape, size and quality of the merchantable bole, because the farmer’s income benefit is directly proportional to the amount of volume extractable from each stem
- Provision for means of getting resources near farmers at their farms as the plots allocated become more distant from their places of habitation and communication – As time goes by, the place of allocations for the MTS become very far from the communities. Walking become extremely difficult, particularly where it is a bit mountainous or hilly. Sending seedlings and food crops to plant, as well as bringing harvested food crops to the market are both challenging
- The government can assist in providing bicycles, tricycles or motorcycles to farmers (even if on loan) so that it would ease them in this direction
- It is because of the longer distances that eventually occur that is why most farmers would want to continue farming in the closer-to-community lands by killing (some of the trees) so the canopy doesn’t close for them to leave.
- This could also be through government constructing or improving the trails even to the interior parts of the forest for easy accessibility
- Ready market for MTS farmer produce – The government must make provision so that the farmers who are devoted to restoring the nation’s forest through this MTS would be relieved of food wastage and cheap pricing, which is usually the case. The long distances and the very poor routes ensure that the farmers are not able to bring most of their food crops to town and market centers. Therefore in order to avoid/reduce that, most farmers bring the ones they can carry home and leave the rest in the farm to go bad
- Serious measures to prosecute illegal chainsaw operators and their accomplices would discourage perpetrators – This should be key and supreme for the sustainability of MTS to the end. Their prosecution should be made open and shameful
- Regular meetings and durbars at these forest-fringe communities by the FC (district or regional) staff for feedback before the maturity of the trees. This would help in improving and tailoring the MTS to suit the local community’s case.
For agroforestry to reach its full potential, barriers need to be addressed at all levels. Policy- and decision-makers can contribute by making visible and promoting agroforestry projects and policies.
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|This conservation resource was created by Collins Tawiah SEKYERE. It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.|