Ghana, a former British colony previously known as the Gold Coast, is seen by the international community as a stable beacon of light within West Africa. After gaining independence from Britain in 1957 it has gone on to lead Africa in democratically elected Government. With a stable economy and as a full signatory of MIGA (The World Bank guarantee scheme for foreign investors) Ghana proves to be one of the most attractive investment locations in Africa.
Ghana has one of the most conducive climates and environments for the production of high-quality tropical hardwood. The Mean Annual Increment (“MAI”) is the rate at which a tree grows, and in Ghana is estimated to be between 18m³ and 23m³ per hectare based on experiences in similar locations in Nigeria. This is faster than MAI rates in both Burma and Indonesia and is due to Ghana’s location in the prime growing zone for teak (plus or minus 5° from the equator) and its ideal terrain and soil conditions.
Ghana’s Forest and Wildlife Policy was adopted in 1994 to replace the first formal forest policy of 1948, which was formulated for the conservation and protection of the forest reserve estates. The main policy thrusts of the 1994 Policy were environmental protection, sustainable production and use of forest and wildlife resources, involvement of local people in management and benefit sharing, institutional restructuring and promotion of research and human resource development. A forestry development master plan was formulated to implement the policy via a comprehensive donor funded sector development programme- the Natural Resource Management Programme (NRMP).
The implementation of the 1994 forest and wildlife policy brought a number of strategic initiatives and sector reforms, which sought to improve and develop the forest resource base and integrated good governance, transparency, equity and poverty reduction into the forest and wildlife sector.
Degraded forest reserve lands are released by the Forestry Commission to Private Sector entities for plantation establishment after vetting and endorsing their reforestation and business plans. The operations of these private developers are then monitored through periodic field visits by the Forestry Commission to ensure compliance with the approved reforestation plans.
During the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s the government of Ghana through the Forestry department embarked on a process of re-planting some of the country’s degraded forest reserves. This is a process that continues today, however due to the lack of funding and the long period before any financial return can be gained progress has been slow.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) through the Forestry Commission has recognized the important role the private sector can play in this venture and has put in place mechanisms and incentives to lure private investments into the area of industrial forest plantation development.