In Ghana, traditional customs and practices – such as ‘taboo’ days when no one enters the forest – have helped to protect forests through the ages. But these practices have not always been respected, with some timber companies logging in areas adjacent to communities even on sacred days.
Communities have reported seeing a change for the better with Ghana’s implementation of binding contracts between timber companies and local communities, known as Social Responsibility Agreements (SRAs). These agreements oblige companies to agree on a range of issues including compensation and observance of cultural norms with communities ahead of logging activities.
Companies have also begun to see advantages in building a positive relationship with communities living in the areas where they operate. “We realised that the more we engaged with communities, the easier our work became,” said Stephen Kwame Paddy, Chain of Custody manager at Logs and Lumber Limited, one of Ghana’s biggest timber companies. “We started to understand their frustrations and their needs… this made our work easier.”
The adoptions of SRAs was in part driven by Ghana’s implementation of its Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union. As part of the Agreement, Ghana started paying added attention to the implementation of laws and regulations applicable to forest operations, including those focusing on SRAs.