The prevailing literature on poverty-environment links mostly presents a rather deterministic view of the nexus between poverty and the environment, revolving around the negative impact of the poor on the environment. Specifically, in Ghana, empirical evidence on the prevalence of forest degradation is sparse because the requisite data are often difficult to obtain. Using a qualitative approach, data collected through in-depth interviews with 45 randomly selected participants and 5 purposively selected key informants (Traditional Authorities) and using a thematic analysis, the poverty-environment, specifically the forest degradation nexus was verified. This cross-sectional study leads the authors to posit that poverty has a minimal negative effect on major forest degradation in Ghana. The study found that the poor were rather conscious, and future-oriented with regard to the environment, specifically forests owing to how their livelihoods and survival are directly linked to their immediate environment. The results suggest that the poverty-environment nexus could be country, or context-specific and varies between geographical and historical contexts. By implication, the seemingly universal assertion that the poor are those who cause major deforestation in communities could be problematic. Henceforth, the study maintains that it would be a fallacy to make generalisations that poverty is the main cause of major forest degradation, since the link between poverty and the environment is very context-specific. We argued on the premise that reduction of poverty in Ghana may not lead to the reduction of forest degradation. Joint implementation of holistic poverty-environment strategies that incorporate both the poor and the rich should be adopted to curb the wanton forest degradation in Ghana.
Perceptual studies on the environment and natural resources are important, if unsustainable use of these resources is to be abated. This paper unravels the hitherto unknown drivers of deforestation and/or forest degradation, and the causes of climate variability and change (CVC), by assessing their synergy based on participants self-reported cases in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality, Ashanti Region, Ghana. Drawing on the criterion and simple random sampling techniques to sample 360 respondents from 4 different communities and adopting the empiricist paradigm to derive trends and patterns in responses, this study demonstrated the bi-directional association between forest degradation and climate change. Results suggested that participants across the various socio-economic status fields were adequately informed, and knowledgeable about changes in climatic variables. Participants’ perceived the loss of forest, extinction of tree species and changing forest to savanna lands as indications of deforestation. Respondents with basic education and/or high school education adequately predicted that CVC factors influence decisions regarding forest removal compared with the uneducated. Removing one hectare of vegetation cover change per year (being it an increase or decrease in the area) (1 ha/year+/-/) or about three hectares (3 ha/year+/-), at a rate of 60%, and forest cover at rates of 57% were perceived as significant drivers of CVC. In recommendation, policies targeted at reducing forest degradation and deforestation and contributing to the fight against CVC in the Municipality should henceforth take into consideration the opinions of the indigenes in addition to scientific evidence in order to ensure the effectiveness of such policies.