Woman pouring sand looking for gold

Better laws can help stop illegal forest conversion in Ghana – report

Ghana’s forests are rapidly being lost to mines and farms, both large and small. Farmers, especially those growing cocoa, and gold miners (both legal and illegal) are driving deforestation.

ClientEarth has reviewed the current laws and regulations that govern forest conversion in Ghana and found that major problems like illegal deforestation, community land rights’ violations and conflicting land titles stem from laws that are incomplete, unclear or not fit for purpose.

A particular challenge for Ghana is that the laws regulating small-scale farmers and artisanal miners are not suited to their specific characteristics. This increases the risk that they will operate outside the law and not observe legal standards, including those that could reduce deforestation.

Ghana’s newly-elected government has shown strong political will to address problems of forest conversion. The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources identified illegal mining in protected forests and encroachment by farmers into protected forests as a top priority – and has already developed a strategy to tackle it.

ClientEarth lawyer Caroline Haywood said: “It is encouraging to see public and political will aligned in Ghana to address issues around forest conversion. Significant law reform is needed to make sure that Ghana’s laws governing forest conversion are clear and comprehensive, to reduce the likelihood of illegal deforestation and land conflicts.”

The best way to regulate forest conversion is with strong laws that will protect Ghana’s forests and the people that depend on them.

Read the briefing here: Addressing risks of an inadequate legal framework governing forest conversion in Ghana

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