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close this bookSustaining the Future: Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 pages)
close this folderPart 5: Environment and development in Ghana
close this folderInstitutional issues on the environment and resource management with reference to Ghana
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentEarly developments
View the documentThe Stockholm Conference and after
View the documentThe Environmental Action Plan (EAP)
View the documentInstitutional problems and issues
View the documentThe implementation of the Environmental Action Plan
View the documentConclusion
View the documentReferences

Early developments

In Ghana, concern about the land and environmental degradation has been expressed since the early decades of the twentieth century, notably since the 1930s (Agyepong 1987; Benneh et al. 1990). Legislation to protect specific aspects and components of the land were put in place in the early years of the century. For instance, in 1901, the Wild Animals Preservation Ordinance was passed, followed by the Rivers Ordinance in 1903. Forest reservation was initiated in 1907, followed a year later by the establishment of the Forestry Department. The Mining Rights Regulations Ordinance was introduced in 1925. Severe degradational problems in the northern savannas led to the institution of land planning and soil erosion measures in those areas. These introduced conservational practices in the agricultural use of land, water, and grazing resources. Planning and execution involved the Departments of Agriculture and Forestry and the local people. The Land Planning and Soil Erosion Ordinance was passed in 1953, and amended in 1957, to create permanent committees of the areas designated for planning (Benneh 1985).

The institutional arrangements that have developed over the years charge government departments or committees with responsibility for specific resources. This was the case with the Forestry Department and the Geological Survey Department. The Land Survey Department was established in 1919, the Soil Survey Division, now the Soil Research Institute, came into existence in 1947, and the Game and Wildlife Department was established in 1961. Between the early 1950s and the beginning of the 1970s, several enactments empowered various official agencies to exercise executive responsibilities as far as the care and protection of the environment and resources were concerned. In addition, a number of research institutes were established. The responsibilities for environmental resources were therefore widely distributed, with no one agency having an oversight of the wider environment or significant portions of it.

This sectoral arrangement of institutional responsibilities has been characteristic of the management of the environment and resources in the country. Twenty-two departments, commissions, corporations, and institutes have been identified in Ghana as having responsibility for land and other resources management (Benneh et al. 1990). Responsibilities range from policy formulation, survey and evaluation, planning, production, conservation, research, and training to monitoring.

The problems of achieving an ecologically and environmentally comprehensive perspective on resources and the resource processes in these circumstances are many and have impeded optimal management.