Fractured tenure, unaccountable authority and benefit capture: constraints to community benefit under climate change
The debate on climate change and ecosystem services has grown substantially over the past two decades. The post-Kyoto protocol period particularly has witnessed increased formulation of financial mechanisms to compensate for green efforts towards carbon sequestration and reduction in deforestation. In most cases, communities substantially depend on forests for their livelihoods or their actions have a direct bearing on the sustainability of the forests. Will the economic incentives from emerging initiatives offer new sources of income to support rural livelihoods and reduce poverty? There is ome doubt about this potential, because there is enormous evidence across the world to show that forest exploitation and use has not substantially benefited local people and Ghana is no exception. This paper draws on existing evidence in Ghana to show that the lack of secure community tenure rights and the dominance of unaccountable authority - which leads to benefit capture by local elites - are critical constraints to equitable forest benefit sharing. Building on the evidence, this paper argues that unless these issues are addressed in policy and practive, the potential economic benefits from the various emerging mechanisms under climate change and ecosystem services may not benefit local people; they may even reinforce the gap between the rich and the poor.