Ghana Faces Deforestation Crisis Amid Charcoal Production Surge - Onlinetimesgh

Ghana Faces Deforestation Crisis Amid Charcoal Production Surge

Ghana is facing a severe deforestation crisis, driven by a significant increase in charcoal production. Between 2010 and 2022, charcoal production in the country has risen from approximately 1.60 million metric tons to about 2.3 million metric tons—a 44% increase. This surge is attributed to rising exports and increased demand among low-income households in the savannah and transitional ecological zones. The charcoal industry, now worth about Ghc1 billion annually, sees 22% of its revenue generated by just 3% of merchants in the supply chain. For many households, charcoal has become the cheapest and most accessible fuel.

With traditional wood sources dwindling, producers have turned to using fruit trees such as mango, shea, and baobab for charcoal production. Charcoal production has become a crucial source of livelihood, particularly for the youth. About 90% of those involved in the industry are between the ages of 21 and 40. Additionally, 35% of rural households produce charcoal, and 64% combine this with subsistence farming. This suggests a lack of awareness about environmental sustainability, leading to harmful practices like charcoal burning.

Approximately 80% of Ghanaian households rely on charcoal for cooking, and it is also a critical fuel source for many small and medium-sized enterprises. Charcoal is preferred over liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) due to its perceived lower cost and greater accessibility.

The environmental impact of charcoal burning is severe. Ghana has lost 70% of its wildlife and about 6.15 million hectares of forest in the past decade. The country loses 2% of its forest cover annually, a rate that far exceeds reforestation efforts. This has negatively affected carbon sequestration efforts and Ghana’s ability to limit CO2 emissions. The widespread use of charcoal threatens to derail Ghana’s efforts to achieve its sustainable development goals by 2030, particularly Goal 7, which focuses on affordable and clean energy.

In response, government agencies have promoted the use of LPG and implemented forest conservation measures. However, these interventions have not significantly reduced the use of charcoal, largely due to the high cost of LPG, which remains unaffordable for many low-income earners.

To address this crisis, several recommendations have been proposed by CEMSE:

1. Regulation and Licensing: The charcoal industry should be regulated, and industry authorization should be granted to investors or entrepreneurs in the value chain. This includes incorporating more suppliers, not just exporters, under the Energy Commission. Proper regulation and licensing would enable the government to institute tax policies on services and products in the value chain.

 2. Designated Areas for Charcoal Production: The government should designate specific areas for tree felling and identify the types of trees suitable for charcoal production. A manual outlining forest resources for wood fuel should be provided in each district. Producers who encroach on undesignated areas should be penalized and required to plant hectares of trees under the supervision of the energy and forestry commissions.


3. Industry Taxation: The charcoal industry should be taxed appropriately to compensate for forest loss. Proper taxation could raise about Ghc100 million annually, representing about 10% of the industry’s annual income. The revenue from these taxes could be used to plant more trees or support government initiatives such as the Green Ghana Project.

Balancing economic benefits with sustainability is crucial. A coherent policy that regulates the charcoal production value chain is essential to minimizing the impact on Ghana’s forest resources and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Attached is a statement:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *