The Politics and Consequences of Decentralized Forestry: The Modified Taungya System In Ghana
The Modified Taungya System is a decentralized forest intervention implemented in Ghana as forest governance strategy for grassroot development and forest resource conservation. This article asks how devolution of forest management practices to local level authorities produces responsive and accountable representation, and sustainable forest management under the Modified Taungya System. It focuses on two case studies: Nkawie and Juaso Forest Districts. Then, the paper asks how communities are developing new material and social practices around the Modified Taungya System to rebuild their livelihoods and socio-economic wellbeing. Here, the article focusses on Sunyani Forest District, drawing lessons for the two other cases. The article shows how the creation of representative groups under the Modified Taungya System provides the democratic space necessary for effective representation of community aspirations. However, due to elite capture, the interests of privilege few people are promoted. The state Forestry Commission fails to devolve relevant and discretionary resources to local leaders, and do not follow the prescribed policy processes of the Modified Taungya System. Hence, local leaders are unable to promote responsive and accountable representation. Rural communities continue to show great interest in the Modified Taungya System, but the interest is bias towards gaining access to forest land for cultivation of crops. There is no active engagement of the locals in tree planting, and hence, the Modified Taungya System exists only to promote individual interest of communities. This article shows how ‘failed’ interventions can gain popular support for rhetoric and individual gains.
Keywords - Decentralized, forestry, Ghana, Taungya