On the basis of a detailed case study of the High Forest Zone of Ghana, the paper challenges the common narrative of REDD as being fast and easy. The paper analyses proximate and underlying causes of deforestation and degradation and finds that these processes are driven by multiple underlying causes. The paper goes on to argue that the causes of deforestation and degradation that are found within the realm of the forestry sector, to which REDD measures will be largely confined, have emerged as a result of a political economy that gives priority to economic development over forest conservation, while at the same time allowing powerful interest groups, in particular the political and administrative elite, to financially benefit from resource depletion. The analysis suggests that forest conserving policy reforms are unlikely to come fast and easy, and that the prospect of future REDD payments may not accelerate them. It is argued that the case of Ghana is not unique and that REDD implementation may face similar constraints in many developing countries.
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