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Understanding Illegal Logging in Ghana

On 14 October 2020, Joseph Boakye defended his thesis 'Understanding Illegal Logging in Ghana'. The doctoral research was supervised by Prof. J.M. Otto and prof.dr. J.G. van Erp (Utrecht University).

Joseph Boakye
14 October 2020
Leiden Repository

This study on regulatory compliance in the logging sector in Ghana, attempts to understand how and why the key logging actors in the Ghana’s timber industry (i.e., licensed logging firms and chainsaw operators) respond to regulations in the sector and the extent to which the Forestry Commission, the main state regulatory institution, enforces these regulations to ensure compliance.

For licensed logging firms, the study found that economic gains and societal pressures including demands from the local communities for developmental assistance and illegal activities of chainsaw operators influenced them to violation. Contrary, deterrence from third party non-state actors, particularly the EU market actors and forest certification bodies produced better compliance than the state sanctions. Also, for some firms, it was their religious beliefs including hope in eternal life, rather than deterrence from the state or non-state actors, that motivated them to comply. Regarding chainsaw operators, the violating activity  was basically poverty-driven in the sense that it provides them with livelihood support. It also accounts for the bulk of lumber consumed locally and attracts low sanctions when violators are caught. Again, the study found that, the general socio-politico-economic context of the regulated actors and regulators exhibits traits that undermined compliance and enforcement efforts.

All these demonstrate that enhancing compliance is a complex phenomenon and not just a straight forward calculation of increasing sanctions to achieve a higher level of compliance, as deterrence theory would like us to believe. More than that, compliance has other dimensions as well including social and normative motivations, and capacity to comply. What is important then for policymakers and practitioners to enhance compliance among various regulated actors is to understand how different actors respond to different compliance motivations under various socio-politico-economic and cultural settings.

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