Accra, March 1, GNA – Ghana has made steady
strides in its forest sector governance since signing on to the Voluntary
Partnership Agreement with the European Union some eight years ago, Mr John
Allotey, Deputy Chief Executive Forestry Commission has said.
Speaking at a two-day conference on the Legal and Certified Timber Trade, Mr Allotey said while the focus of the market had been on the delivery of the timber legality licenses, some notable strides had been recorded in the area of forest sector governance.
“Eight years after signing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union, we are happy to note that the forest sector governance landscape is very different from what existed before Ghana’s entry into the agreement,” he said.
BVRio, a non-profit association, in collaboration with Proforest and Forestry Commission, organised the conference to examine the status, challenges and next steps of the FLEGT-VPA process in Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire, an overview of timber sector in the countries and the requirement of buyers from China and the EU.
Participants are drawn from the United Kingdom, China, Liberia, La Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana. There are also representatives from the International Tropical Timber Organisation, the EU and the Food and Agriculture Organisation and timber federations.
Mr Allotey said to show commitment to responsible trade in timber in particular and sustainable forest management in general, Ghana had passed a legislative instrument, which required the Commission to make publicly available forest management information.
He said with the legislative instrument, certain information that was routinely requested by buyers seeking to do due diligence would now be published on the Forestry Commission website.
Mr Allotey said Ghana’s timber legality assurance system dubbed GhLAS had been completed with all forest production districts rolled-on and enabled to use the system.
He said in the last quarter of 2017, Ghana had been able to complete an end-to-end testing of the system and was able to conduct a trial shipment of consignments to selected destinations in Europe, which were well received.
“As a result of this trial, Ghana is proceeding to apply some minor but final tweaks to licensing format to pave the way for full implementation,” Mr Allotey said.
In a speech read on his behalf, Dr Gerhard Dieterle, Executive Director International Tropical Timber Organisation, highlighted on the importance of responsible timber trade and the key role the forest and its productive chain can play in achieving sustainable development goals.
He said the demand for wood products was increasing if not addressed, the exploitation of timber and other forest resources could be as high as six billion cubic metres by 2050, leading to deforestation and forest degradation or an increase in productive forest that would help drive the main economy and mitigate climate change.
He said there was the need to look at forest as an essential commodity as there was no alternatives rather than producing and using them.
“Business as usual is not an option because as it would mean more deforestation and forest degradation and undermine efforts to fight climate change, promote sustainable development and improve the lives of forest dependent people,” he said.
As part of the conference, BVRio in collaboration with the Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission and Proforest launched the Responsible Timber Trade Fair at the 22nd Ghana International Trade Fair.
The fair is to raise awareness about timber legality and to help generate an increase in the internal demand for legally and sustainably sourced timber products in West and Central Africa.