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Communities in the Bia landscape receives Training on Off Reserve Logging

Timby Community Forest Monitoring Project
Published : August 3, 2020

Borbokrom is a farming community in the Juaboso-Bia landscape and the area is associated with lots of timber trees on the farms of individuals. Some of the common trees found on the farms include Ceiba, Chenchen, Ofram, Mahogany and Sapele. The presence of these timber species in Borbokrom and its surrounding communities has made the place attractive to both legal and illegal timber operators. With these timber trees on farms, there is always the likelihood of confrontations between the timber companies who are desperate for the timber and farmers who are desperate to protect their livelihoods. In a likely event that the timber operators are ready to engage the farmer, there is always the issue of knowledge gap associated with the farmers. The farmers lack knowledge in the procedures associated with off reserve logging and hence are always at a disadvantage during negotiations.
The lack of knowledge has resulted in the loss of livelihoods of the farmers from the logging activities by the timber operators on their farms. They are not equipped with knowledge in some basic forest laws that will enable them to demand their rights from these timber operators. As such, farmer’s cash crops such as cocoa and other food crops are destroyed without the payment of compensation by these timber operators. The farmers are mostly not informed of the intended logging activities on their farms. The lack of knowledge is not only associated with the farmers but chiefs and opinion leaders in the communities. And in some cases, opinion leaders are compromised by these timber operators and hence support their activities. This has made farmers in communities such as Borbokrom, Doedosokrom, Asantekrom, Gyingyini, Ananekrom, Tetteykrom all within the Juaboso-Bia landscape of the Western North region of Ghana vulnerable to the activities of timber companies.
In this regard, Friends of the Earth-Ghana (FoE-Ghana) in the second phase of the Timby Community Forest Monitoring project has extended the project to these vulnerable communities. Since Off Reserve Logging mainly occurs on farm lands and as such it may affect crops and farming activities, the project built the capacity of the farmers/communities on various legal and operational procedures that must be complied with under the Ghana Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) for legal wood production. The communities received training in the following areas; written consent obtained from the landowners/farmers in the area before operations start; negotiate, sign and prepare a Social Responsibility Agreement (SRA) implementation plan with the affected community before operations start; and paying compensation for damage caused to affected farmers.
On the last day of the training, the Chief of Nsowakrom, Nana Boah Kwasi graced the occasion with his presence. During interaction with the project coordinator he expressed his profound gratitude to FoE-Ghana for such a novel project and pledge his support for the Timby Community Forest Project in his community. He lamented on the activities of the timber operators in the communities where people have lost their crops and in worst cases farms without any form of compensation. He expressed hope that not only will the project protect the livelihoods of the farmers but will also ensure justice for the aggrieved farmers by ensuring that timber companies reform their operations in the communities.