The Charcoal Industry in Ghana: An Alternative Livelihood Option for Displaced Illegal Chainsaw Lumber Producers

Authors: Beatrice Darko Obiri, Isaac Nunoo, Elizabeth Obeng, Francis Wilson Owusu and Emmanuel Marfo

The importance of charcoal in satisfying multiple socio-economic needs for income, food security and industrial purposes particularly in sub-Saharan Africa is widely acknowledged. Although charcoal production contributes to deforestation in these countries, development institutions are recently considering the charcoal industry as leverage for addressing poverty and environmental conservation. Tropenbos International Ghana and its partners seek to promote charcoal production as an alternative income source for illegal chainsaw lumber millers in Ghana. In support of this objective, this study assessed the charcoal supply and value chains as well as the economics of production methods and challenges in the industry in Ghana. Further, the feasibility of the switch from illegal chainsaw lumber milling to the charcoal industry, resource implications and potential challenges have been investigated to inform decisions for any such reforms.

This report was produced within the framework of the EU Chainsaw Milling Project “Supporting the integration of legal and legitimate domestic timber markets into Voluntary Partnership Agreements”. The project aims to find sustainable solutions to the problems associated with the production of lumber for local timber markets by involving all stakeholders in dialogue, information gathering and the development of alternatives to unsustainable chainsaw milling practices. In Ghana, the project is being carried out by Tropenbos International (TBI) in collaboration with the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) and the Forestry Commission (FC).