Since the state cannot undertake harvesting of timber resources alone, provisions have been made under allied legislation (Investment Codes) to encourage the participation of stakeholders in the timber trade in the West African sub-region. In order to encourage wise use of the timber resources, various legislative mandates have been introduced as controls over the years in response to changing socio-economic and ecological circumstances of the resources. Accordingly with the development of forestry institutions, the scope of controls has been extended to embrace more pro-active forest conservation strategies currently endorsed by the international timber market. Against the prevailing institutional and legal framework, conditions underlying the control systems have been identified and used as basis for a comparative review of harvesting controls in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Cameroon. Additionally, existing controls governing chainsaw operations in Ghana and Nigeria have been compared. Major obstacles constraining the enforcement of controls are lack of institutional co-operation, political pressures, poor logistics and the imposition of non-deterrent penalties for forest offences.