Even though several researchers have advanced reasons underlying the prevalence of illegal logging in the tropics, the use of socialization, social identity and corporate social responsibility theories to explain this phenomenon is rare. This study examined whether value, social identity, and corporate social responsibility theories can be used to explain why illegal logging is prevalent in four forest communities in Ghana. Drawing on these theories, it was hypothesized that the chainsaw operators (CSO) are using their social responsibility activities and community solidarity to solicit support from the forest communities in which they operate. Using systematic and convenience sampling techniques, 95 households and 380 individuals were sampled, respectively, for the study. It is evident from the study that the strong attachment of the chainsaw operators to the communities in which they operate has enabled them to galvanize support from the communities and this support appears to have been strengthened by the perceived social, environmental, and economic benefits derived from the chainsaw operations. Among the corporate social responsibility factors, higher compensation rates paid to farmers for crops damage by CSO and the perception that chainsaw operations are more environmentally benign than those of large-scale timber harvesting firms appear to be the most significant factors influencing farmers' decision to support CSO. The paper concludes that the question of who should own trees on farmlands and what economic benefits should be accrued to farmers for keeping commercial trees on their farms needs rethinking. Strengthening the policy regime on compensation payments and strong adherence to timber harvesting rules could also help reduce the incidence of illegal logging, at least, at the community level.
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Vol. 16 • No. 6