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Hidden forestry revealed: Characteristics, constraints and opportunities for small and medium forest enterprises in Ghana

The forest sector in Ghana is the fourth largest foreign exchange earner for the country. This contribution however comes mainly from the formal forest sub-sector consisting of regulated industries in timber and timber products. The informal sub-sector, characterised by small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) broadly covering wood forest products, non-wood forest products and forest services, has been largely left out in forest planning and management even though it represents the main, additional or alternative income source for about 3 million people in Ghana. In terms of their contribution to livelihoods and resource sustainability, SMFEs may even outweigh the formal forest sub-sector.

The neglect of the SMFE sub-sector results in revenue loss to the state through non-registration and non-payment of permit fees and taxes, illegal and unstable operations of some enterprises, and sub-optimal contribution to people’s livelihoods and poverty reduction.

But opportunities and support exist both at the national and international level and offer good prospects for the promotion of SMFEs. Efforts must be made to utilise the opportunities offered by these initiatives and deal with the challenges they present.

This report reviews the status of SMFEs in Ghana. It provides information on the various issues confronting the sub-sector and identifies mechanisms for harnessing the potential of SMFEs to effectively contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable forest management in Ghana.

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Osei-Tutu, P., Nketiah, K., Kyereh, B., Owusu-Ansah, M. and Faniyan, J. (2010) Hidden forestry revealed: Characteristics, constraints and opportunities for small and medium forest enterprises in Ghana. IIED Small and Medium Forest Enterprise Series No. 27. Tropenbos International and International Institute for Environment and Development, London, UK.