Takoradi, Sept 26, GNA - The Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLTA) has called on government to as a matter of urgency expedite action on the 2008 Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to ensure sanity in the domestic lumber market.
Mr. Victor Nyadi, the National President of DOLTA, said since government of Ghana signed the agreement with the European Union (EU) to govern trade in timber between the two parties under the VPA little commitment had been made to attain its objectives.
The VPA says that timber originating in Ghana and arriving at an EU point of import without a permit should be denied entry.
Mr. Nyadi told the Ghana News Agency in Takoradi after an advocacy workshop for its members that given Ghana’s commitments to the VPA, a policy choice must be made.
The Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLTA) is made up of domestic lumber traders, table top machine operators, chainsaw operators and transporters and has a membership of about 25,000 people in Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Central regions.
The association's objectives are to bring together all lumber traders and their associates under one national association or federation to engage government on issues relate to domestic lumber trade.
He said “The implementation of the VPA in Ghana especially the domestic market component if not carefully carried out would have a significant impact on livelihoods of stakeholders in the domestic lumber trade.”
Mr Nyadi said it is also feared that measures to regularize the forest industry, if based on current policies, would lead to a crackdown on the chainsaw lumber production enterprise, potentially leading to serious conflicts.
He said assessment by EU Chain Saw Milling project in 2010 showed that lumber traders would be hit hard and this would also affect consumers of lumber, adding that a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD) platform has been created to discuss issues concerning illegal Chain Saw Milling and trade as well as finding viable solution to the problem.
He said an independent study initiated by Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission under the Natural Resources & Environmental Governance Programme (NREG) to help meet the VPA requirement of supplying legal wood to the domestic market recommended that saw millers would only supply legal lumber to the domestic market, saw millers and artisanal millers to supply the domestic market with legal lumber and artisanal millers only to supply the domestic market with legal lumber.
He said the three policy recommendations have been discussed among stakeholders from community/market, district and national levels and reached consensus on a viable policy direction that sawmills and artisanal millers supply the domestic market with legal timber obtained from sustained yields.
Mr. Nyadi said DOLTA had positioned itself to benefit from actions aimed at regularizing the domestic market, ensure sustainable supply of legal lumber on the domestic market and undertake forestation programmes to sustain the timber resource.
He said the association, with support from the BUSAC Fund, had embarked on an advocacy programme to educate its members and the public on the implications of the agreed policy proposal and the need for key stakeholders to expedite action in the implementation of the policy proposal adopted at the multi-stakeholder dialogue level.
Mr. Nyadi said the association would continue to support the Forestry C omission and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in its effort to ensure supply of adequate legal lumber on the domestic mamarket.