Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Forest Decentralization in Ghana: Examining Empowerment of Local Institutions Public Deposited

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  • Decentralizing resource control for community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is a widely promoted scheme for natural resource governance worldwide. Researchers and policymakers have suggested that this approach has the potential to achieve positive social outcomes and succeed where centralized resource conservation has been inadequate. In reality, the powers transferred are not always as theorized, and the outcomes of these schemes are a mix of success and failures on social and ecological performance. In this exploratory study, I sought to examine the powers transferred to Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) in Ghana and the transferred powers' outcomes. I used a qualitative research design and interviewed research participants in Ghana at the National and District levels and three selected CREMAs from the west of the High Forest Zone in Ghana. I also approached this work from a critical research paradigm. The results show that CREMAs have and exercise extensive powers to enforce restrictions on local use of forest resources, but have limited decision-making, law-making, or adjudication powers over resources. CREMAs consequently appear to be a vehicle for achieving the Forestry Commission's conservation objectives rather than pursue the socio-political opportunities for forest communities through resource management. The results also show that CREMAs impact on communities is weak. There is no focus on enhancing forest communities' political awareness to exercise choice and self-determination over their resource rights. There is the need for a political approach to CREMAs, which fully considers their marginalized position in resource decision making, to give them real local control over resources and support. Local CREMA communities need far greater rights compared to the claims of what is currently given. External actors, particularly NGOs, need to support communities to realize their resource rights and utilize their natural resources to create wealth locally. These findings also show the need for greater coherence between decentralizing forest and the political decentralization process. This thesis also provides useful feedback for the CREMA reform process and makes theoretical and practical contributions to CBNRM and CREMA literature.
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