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Profiting from illegality: A discursive analysis of the chainsaw operation in rural Ghana

Kwadwo Afriyie and Kabila Abass

Forest Policy and Economics, 2020, vol. 115, issue C

Abstract: Chainsaw milling has in recent times gained currency in public discourse in Ghana. Governments over the years have tried to curtail the activity but such attempts have always met strong resistance from the locals who engage in the operation as a means of livelihood. A critical analysis of the industry is necessary for a sustainable livelihood development. This paper, through empirical research, uses discourse analysis to examine the politics of chainsaw operation in Ghana, focusing on what push locals into it in spite of attempts to curb it. Our findings indicate that for most people, unemployment, corrupt government officials, lack of agricultural lands and inadequate policy response to domestic timber demand are the reasons for getting into the industry. However, the rules and regulations as well as the monitoring regimes, coupled with complex ambiguous relationships between state agencies, large-scale lumber and milling companies, traditional authorities and chainsaw operators, together entrench chainsaw activities in the country. Our findings provide a different approach to state agencies' discourse on chainsaw dominated by buccaneering and criminalisation narratives in Ghana. Rather than the antagonistic tactic towards the chainsaw phenomenon by the Forestry Commission and other state bureaucracies, they could initiate policy and legislative reforms to help tidy up the chainsaw operations in Ghana.

Keywords: Chainsaw; Lumbering; Discourse analysis; Livelihood; Poverty; Ghana (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2020.102174

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