Scenario Analysis for sustainable management of Ghana’s high forests

The decline of timber resources in the high forest zone (HFZ) has reached a critical stage in the history of forestry in Ghana. While there are some promising developments concerning rehabilitation and restoration of degraded forest reserves and plantation developments, Ghana’s timber resources continue to be over-exploited and degraded.

Furthermore, population growth and demand for timber continue to increase. Thus, future production prospects have become questionable and of concern to sustainable forest management. These have renewed the call to look into alternative future development scenarios of the forest resources.

Stakeholders are unsure about how the accelerating pace of change in society will affect the forests and timber production in the future. It is critical for forest managers and policy makers to have insights into the possible courses of action they can take to improve the developments of the resources in the HFZ. Therefore long-term analyses are needed especially where choices that are being made today will have an impact on the forest resources for many years to come. One way of guiding these choices is to provide scenarios based on scientific data that illustrate the possible developments of the forest resources given certain conditions. An in-depth analysis of how forest resources develop in response to human treatments and environmental variables  should make it possible to envisage the future timber availability with a certain level of confidence. The information so provided will enable policy makers and forest managers make informed choices and also allow the wider stakeholder group to participate in decision-making more effectively.

In Ghana, timber is harvested from forest reserves, off-reserve areas and forest plantations. But a country level analysis of forest resource development situation and dynamics from these production areas is lacking. There is lack of detailed information on (1) how timber resources develop in the HFZ (2) factors affecting these developments and (3) the consequences of different management options on the developments and dynamics of tree resources.

While there is some information and experience with timber resource within the forest reserves, little is known about the dynamics of timber resources on farmlands and in newly established plantations. Even within the forest reserves little is known about the possible outcome of alternative management systems on the developments of forest resources.

The objective of this PhD research is to provide insights into how tree resources develop in the HFZ of Ghana. Through scenario analysis, the research will explore the consequences of alternative policy and management options on timber development and future timber availability in the country. The aim is to provide quantitative insights into the long-term consequences of alternative policy and management scenarios for timber production in the HFZ.