This paper discusses how rosewood as a common-pool resource is managed and utilized at the local community level in the wake of aggravated exploitation of the resource for export to feed external markets. Non-probability sampling technique coupled with focus group discussion was used to collect primary data from two administrative districts in the transitional zone between the savannah and high forest in Ghana. In all, researchers interacted with 96 respondents in a survey and 77 participants in focus group discussions in 6 communities. The results indicate that the governance structure and management strategy for the sustainable use of rosewood and other forest commons are ineffective in the studied communities. Illegal rosewood harvesting thrived due to weak institutional structures, poor community knowledge of the value of rosewood logs in the international market and poor public knowledge about a ban on the harvesting and export of rosewood. Sustainable management and utilization of rosewood and other forest commons on village lands (lands outsider protected areas) could be improved if local communities are empowered and given technical support to manage forest resources on their lands. The conduct of natural capital accounting in forest resources and communicating the result to local communities could help residents appreciate the true value of forest resources and probably aspire for a greater quota of benefits. With a better understanding of the value of a forest, residents may be motivated to protect it from unsustainable use.
Key words: Institutional structures, natural resource use, sustainable management, illegal logging.
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