Unpacking and repacking community representation in forest policy and management negotiations: lessons from the social responsibility agreement in Ghana

  • E Marfo Forest and Nature Policy Group, Wageningen University/Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, UST Box 63, Kumasi, Ghana


One issue, which is increasingly being noted as fundamentally essential for any effective community participation and negotiation process but has for long evaded policy research attention, is community representation in forest management decision-making. This paper, responding to the limited attention given to the concept attempts to provide a theoretical review of the subject in the context of social responsibility agreement negotiations in Ghana and to suggest lessons for effective community representation in forest policy and management negotiations. The paper borrows extensively from a research conducted in the Domi River Forest Reserve area, which explored the expectation and reality of how communities were represented in the social responsibility agreement (SRA) negotiation for the award of Timber Utilisation Contracts in Ghana. In addition, the paper has extensively reviewed literature to propose that community representation should focus on defining, both in spatial and social sense, the boundary of the term ‘community', who represents the community (representatives), what is being represented (content) and how it is being represented (process). The paper argues that an appropriate framework for community representation is one that explicitly and unambiguously defines ‘who is to be represented', establishes and presents collective community interest and ensures the ‘selection' of legitimate and accountable representatives. The paper provides an appropriate framework and lessons to guide policy ‘makers' and practitioners in forest policy and management planning and implementation to ensuring effective representation and participation of communities.

Keywords: community, representation, negotiation, social responsibility agreement, timber utilization contract

Ghana Journal of Forestry Vol. 15&16 2004: 20-29

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0855-1707