The purpose of this research is to investigate community participation in the management of forest resources and the relationship it has with poverty. It also highlights on some conflicts that arise in the management of forest resources and how to manage them and some ways to involve the communities in the management of the forest.
The management of forest resources in Ghana falls mostly in the hands of the government although communities surrounding these resources are recognized stakeholders. With such rich forest resources, communities living around these resources happen to be poor, generally peasant farmers and petty traders since the creation of the reserves has limited their interaction with the forest. Communities surrounding the Kakum National Park in the Central region are of no exception. Before the creation of the reserves, members of the communities could freely go into the forest and collect products like mushrooms, snails, grass-cutter, medicinal herbs to mention but few. Some of these products were sold to earn some additional income. In creating such profit oriented reserves, it is expected that communities surrounding these reserves get some benefits which would help improve their living conditions.
The result of the research indicates that few members around the Kakum National Park participate in the management of the forest. It has also been revealed that when communities participate in the management of the forest resources, the employment opportunities created as a result would enable them earn some revenue which would help them improve on their living conditions and reduce poverty in the long run. To ensure the sustainable use of the resource it is shown that there should be benefit sharing which would also improve collaboration. Although some of the members from the communities were in collaboration with the management others were not. Furthermore, most members of the communities were interested to participate in activities like snail rearing, mushroom cultivation, selling seedlings and hosting tourists in which some of the visitors also shown interest.
The communities around the Kakum Park need more education as to the areas in which they can participate in order to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable use of the forest. There should also be benefit sharing for all stakeholders and improved communication and dialogue which can help in managing conflicts.