Definition of Legal Timber for Ghana

The definition of Legal Timber in Ghana forms part of a complete system of institutional arrangement aimed at securing improved forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) within the regulatory and administration framework in the forest sector of Ghana. This system is popularly known as the Ghana Timber Legality Assurance System (GhLAS).

The definition of legal timber for Ghana under the GhLAS was reached through a multistakeholder process with broad participation of the timber Industry and domestic civil society stakeholders. This helped to create a domestic standard setting arena that enabled the legal definition process to sidestep otherwise very potentially contentious political hurdles leading to significant reforms in the sector. The process led to the review of relevant forest sector laws and regulations to identify gaps as well as do away with obsolete and obnoxious laws in order to enhance simplicity for compliance. The review process also included all relevant international conventions that Ghana had signed unto.

The resultant compilation is organized into a set of principles, criteria and indicators which is then converted into a matrix. The legality matrix provides guidance as well as serves as an auditable performance standard. This makes clear the kind of evidence required to demonstrate compliance with all legality requirements (Timber legality Licence/FLEGT licence). All such requirements are outlined in the legislative instrument (L.I. 2254).

The matrix that organizes the Ghana legal definition for timber and timber products are as described in the table below:

Ghana Legal Timber Definition Matrix


Source of Timber: Timber originated from prescribed sources and concerned individual, group and owners gave their written consent to the land being subjected to the grant of timber rights.


For Timber Utilization Contracts (TUC) in on-reserves, forest management plan preparation covers strategic plan; Delineation of TUCs; Conduction of an inventory before harvesting (on-reserve, off-reserve and plantation); Written consent of concerned individual, group or owners.

Guidance notes on relevant Legislation/Regulations

LI. 1649 PART1: Procedure for grant of timber rights; Subpart1-identification of lands suitable for the grant of timber rights; MOP Section A – Strategic planning (forest reserves); MOP Section B – operational planning (forest reserves); Instruction sheet B2 operational planning methodology (on-reserve delineation); MoP Section C – Timber Production in Forest Reserve; MOP Section F – Controlled timber production off-reserve 2.1 (ii) Identification of TUC areas and 3.7 (C) (off-reserve delineation); F3.2 Consultation process (written consent); Manual of Procedures (MoP) ( 1 ) – Sustainable timber production on-reserve (section C); Stock survey and yield allocation (section D) and Controlled timber production off-reserve (section F).


Land owner, individual or group written consent.

Guidance notes for relevant Legislation/Regulations

Act 547: Timber Resources Management Act section 4, subsection 2 (d); LI1649: Part 1 procedure for grant of Timber Rights, subpart 1: field inspection 2 (d); Subpart II Procedure in relation to lands other than public land and existing forest reserves; MoP Section F (Controlled Timber Production Off-Reserve) – F3.2 – consultation process; MoP Section F, F5.0: Finalization (endorsements).


Timber Rights Allocation The logger held a TUC issued by the Minister and ratified by Parliament following the specified competitive process or Logger held a Salvage Permit issued by the Forestry Commission.


Natural Forest and Plantation TUCs; Qualification of loggers for grant of TUC by TREC.

Guidance notes for relevant Legislation/other references

LI 1721: Part II: Procedure for Competitive bidding for grant of timber right Q; LI 1649: Terms and conditions of TUC (section 14 Act 547: Ratification by parliament (Section 9).


Salvage permit (2) Issuance of Salvage Permit.

Guidance for relevant Legislation/Regulations

Regulation on procedure for salvage timber (Act 547 section 18g); salvage of timber products LI1649 Section 38.


Confiscated Timber Permit for duly auctioned confiscated timber issued.

Guidance for relevant Legislation/Regulations

Offences – Act 547 Section 17 (3); and Salvage and disposal of abandoned timber product (LI 1649 Section 37).


Timber Harvesting Operations The logger complied with forest operation procedures and standards specified by statute.


Stock surveys (including pre-felling inspections for off-reserve areas) were conducted in accordance with the logging manual. Harvesting plan

Guidance notes for relevant Legislation/Regulation

Logging Manual (Section 10 of Act 547). Logging Manual means a set of rules intended to guide the activities of persons who harvest timber in the forest as interpreted in Act 547 (Section 20). MoP Section D (Stock Survey and Yield section


Transportation Timber was at all times transported in accordance with standards prescribed by statute


Timber was transported within the time periods permitted by law

Guidance for relevant Legislation Regulations

Procedure relating to timber operations (Approved periods of timber operations and transport of forest produce): LI1649 Section 18.




Timber processing facilities have valid licences and registration with FC and complied with all legal requirements

Guidance on relevant Legislation Regulations

Act 571 Section 2.


Industrial relation practices conform to legal standards

Guidance for relevant Legislation Regulations

Occupational Health, Safety and Environment: Act 651 Labour Act Section 118-124; LI 1833: Health and employment (Section 18-20) and Office and Factories Act.


All vendors/exporters have valid licence or permits to market timber


Exporters have acquired FC permit


Valid export licence

Guidance for relevant Legislation Regulations

Act 571 Section 2 (i) vetting and the registration of contracts to market timber products and such forest and wildlife products as the commission may determine.


Domestic Vendors have FC registration

Guidance on relevant Legislation Regulations

Act 571 Section 2 (ii) the establishment of procedures to track the movement of timber, wood and wildlife products. TVD audit reports on supply of wood products to the domestic market


Fiscal Obligations Neither the logger nor the Vendor was at the time of sale or export in default of fees, rents or taxes, prescribed by statute


Logger was not in default of stumpage fees or any other fees payable by loggers in Ghana

Guidance notes on relevant Legislation/Regulations

Procedure relating to timber operation (payment of stumpage) LI 1649 Section 25. TVD audit reports on financial flows reconciliation


Logger was not in default of ground rents

Guidance on relevant Legislation Regulations

Timber stumpage fees and contract area rent – LI1649 PART V Section 27


Exporter was not in default of export levies

Guidance on relevant Legislation/Regulations

Export levies: Trees and timber Amendment Act 493 Section 4


Neither Logger nor exporter was in default of corporate income tax.

Guidance on relevant Legislation/Regulations

Imposition of Income Tax (Income from a Business): Act 592 Section 7

(1) Legal status of MoPs: MoPs are output of requirements in Section 18 of the Timber Resource Management Act 547 and accompanying Timber Resource Management Regulation LI 1649 Section 14 repealed by Timber Resource Management (Amendment) Regulation LI 1721, Section 14 which provides for the terms and conditions of TUC.

(2) The Forestry Commission issues a permit subjected to such terms and conditions as shall be specified therein for the salvage of trees from an area of land undergoing development such as road construction, expansion of human settlement or cultivation of farms.

Guidance on relevant Legislation/Regulations Imposition of Income Tax (Income from a Business): Act 592 Section 7.

(1) Legal status of MoPs: MoPs are output of requirements in Section 18 of the Timber Resource Management Act 547 and accompanying Timber Resource Management Regulation LI 1649 Section 14 repealed by Timber Resource Management (Amendment) Regulation LI 1721, Section 14 which provides for the terms and conditions of TUC. (2) The Forestry Commission issues a permit subjected to such terms and conditions as shall be specified therein for the salvage of trees from an area of land undergoing development such as road construction, expansion of human settlement or cultivation of farms.

Laws and Regulations in force in Ghana

The definition of ‘Legal Timber’ represents a subset of the laws contained within the legal framework for timber harvesting, processing and export in Ghana. Through multi-stakeholder consultation, it has been agreed that verification of compliance with these laws will be required in order to issue a FLEGT licence. The laws and regulations in force in Ghana, from which this definition was extracted, include:

  2. 1. Article 258 Establishes a Lands Commission and prescribes the functions of the Commission.
  3. 2. Article 267(1) Vests stool lands in the appropriate stools in trust for their subjects in accordance with customary law and usage.
  4. 3. Article 266 Imposes restrictions on the rights and interest in land that could be granted to a non-citizen of Ghana.
  5. 4. Article 267(2) establish the Office of Administrator of Stool Lands and prescribes its functions.
  6. 5. Article 267(6) provides for the disbursement formula for stool land revenue.
  7. 6. Article 268 Requirement of Parliamentary ratification of agreements relation to the grant of a right or concession for the exploitation of any natural resources.
  8. 7. Article 269 Establish natural resources commissions [Forestry Commission] which ‘shall be responsible for the regulation and management of the utilisation of the natural resources concerned and the coordination of policies in relation to them’.
  9. 8. Article 295 Provides for the definition of Stool lands.
  11. 9. Forest Protection Decree, 1974 (N.R.C.D. 234) – This Act defined forest offences and prescribed sanctions and or penalties for such offences.
  12. 10. Forest Protection (Amendment) Law, 1986 (P.N.D.C.L. 142) – This law reviewed upwards the penalties/fines for forest offences.
  13. 11. FORESTS Ordinance (Cap 157) – This Act provided guidelines for constitution of forest reserves and the protection of forests and other related matters.
  14. 12. Trees and Timber Decree 1974 (N.R.C.D. 273) – This law prescribed guidelines for participation in the logging/ timber industry and provided for the payment of fees as well as sanctions for non-compliance with the guidelines for participation and also export of unprocessed timber.
  15. 13. Trees and Timber (Amendment) Act 1994 (Act 493) – This Act reviewed the fees and fines upwards and also introduced export levy for air-dried lumber and logs.
  16. 14. Timber Resources Management Act 1997 (Act 547) – This repealed the Concessions Act, 1962 (Act 124) and provided for the grant of timber rights in a manner that secures the sustainable management and utilisation of timber resources.
  17. 15. Forestry Commission Act, 1999 (Act, 571) – This Act repealed ACT 453 and re-establish the Forestry Commission as a semi-autonomous corporate body and also brought under the Commission, the forestry sector agencies implementing the functions of protection, development, management and regulation of forest and wildlife resources.
  18. 16. Forest Plantation Development Fund Act, 2000 (Act 583) – This Act consolidate to it the Forest Improvement Fund and provide for the establishment of a Fund to provide financial assistance and the management of such funds for the development of private commercial forest plantations in the country.
  19. 17. The Forest Protection (Amendment) Act 2002 (Act 624) – This Act repealed the Forest Protection (Amendment) Law, 1986 (PNDCL. 142), reviewed forest offences fines upwards and introduced joint liability in the commitment and prosecution of forest offences.
  20. 18. The Forest Plantation Development Fund (Amendment) Act 2002 (Act 623) – This Act amended ACT 583 to enable plantation growers, both in the public and private sectors to participate in forest plantation development.
  21. 19. Timber Resources Management (Amendment) Act 2002 (Act 617) – This Act amended ACT 547 to exclude from its application, land with private forest plantation, to provide for maximum duration, and maximum limit area for timber rights and to provide for incentives and benefits for investors in the forestry and wildlife sector.
  22. 20. Factories, Offices and Shops Act, 1970 (Act 238) – This Act provides for the registration of factories, welfare and safety of employees in factories and other places of work.
  23. 21. Social Security Law, 1991 (PNDCL. 247) – This Law establishes a trust fund to provide social protection to the working population.

EN 19.3.2010 Official Journal of the European Union L 70/21

  1. 22. Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592) – Provides for taxation of individuals and other entities and for related matters.
  2. 23. Value Added Tax Act, 1998 (Act 546) – Provides for the imposition of a VAT on specified transactions and activities.
  3. 24. Economic Plants Protection Decree, 1979 (AFRCD. 47) – Prohibits the grant of timber felling rights in cocoa farms.
  5. 25. LI 1649 timber Resources Management Regulations, 1988 – This Regulation provided guidelines for the allocation and management of timber resources.
  6. 26. LI 1721 – timber Resources Management (Amendment) Regulations, 2003. This Regulations established basis for competitive bidding in timber resource allocation.

Forest Policy and Legislative Reform Aspiration Ghana recognises that the provisions in the existing law which provides grounds for the forgoing legality definition framework needs to undergo significant reforms to be able to address existing inadequacies as well respond to emerging issues in the sector that bothers on the principles of good governance. Ghana wishes therefore to indicate its intension to carry out legal and policy reforms in the spirit of good forest governance. It is expected that such legal reforms could be completed in the next five years. In order to move from the existing legal environment towards the future legal standards, Ghana anticipates a two tier reform approach.

Areas that require policy and legal reforms include:

— Initiation of process to amend the Savings and Transitional provisions of Act 547 in respect of conversion of extant leases/concession to Timber Utilisation Contracts and the related matter of Timber Rights Fee payment,

— Plantation development and harvesting,

— Timber processing and standard setting for the timber industry,

— Import of raw material (wood),

— Domestic market development:

(a) (small to medium size enterprises);

(b) resource allocation;

(c) Standardisation of wood components in building and constructional industry;

(d) Introduction of public procurement policies,

— Institutional arrangements and Forest control processes:

(a) Timber Validation Entity;

(b) Governing council;

(c) Independent Monitoring;

(d) Bar codes,

— Submerged Timber Resource allocation (Volta lake),

— Workers health and safety requirements for forest operation,

— A clear statement of resource governance objectives – public interest in biodiversity sustenance, rural livelihoods, sustainable industrialisation and cultural development Identification and correction of inconsistencies in existing forest laws that relate to definition of legal timber (e.g. issuance of salvage permits in respects of lands under Timber Utilisation Contract),

— Affirmation of local forest tenure and of different stakeholder rights, particularly farmers in different types of forests and clarification of the respective scope of local (including customary) and national institutions in forest management to:

(a) sustain forests;

(b) develop and exploit forests (both timber and non-timber),

— Investment Regulation:

(a) Incentives, regulation, fiscal and benefits sharing for Non-Timber Forest Products (including tourism and environmental services);

(b) Incentives, regulation, fiscal and benefits sharing arrangements for extractive investments;

(c) Incentives, regulation, fiscal and benefits sharing arrangements for reforestation;

(d) Incentives, regulation, fiscal and benefits sharing arrangements for plantations; and

(e) Incentives, regulation, fiscal and benefits sharing arrangements for processing.


News & Events

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Inauguration of the Timber Validation Committee