The VPA made provision for the establishment of an agency that will be responsible for safeguarding the principles of independence, transparency and credibility in the implementation of the LAS. In line with the functional philosophy and integrity requirements espoused by the VPA, the Timber Validation Department (TVD) has been established as a department under the Forestry Commission to perform the following functions:
(i) Auditor in the operations of actors in the forestry sector. In this respect it will check on the status of implementation of regulatory function as prescribed by law and contained in the definition of legality framework. The TVD will use the verification procedures and protocols consistent with the definition of legality and as the audit framework to guide the discharge of its verification functions;
(ii) Reconciliation of datasets generated through field operations within the sector for the purpose of enabling the issuance system based licences.
Functional Structure of TVD
The TVD has been the lead department in FC responsible for the development, testing and deployment of systems and instruments for the LAS implementation in Ghana. In order to discharge its functions efficiently and effectively as prescribed above, the TVD is structured into three functional units which report to a Director who is the head of the department. The head of TVD reports to the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission. The following are the detailed job functions of the three functional units;
- Verification and Field Audit
- Field Verification functions:
Field verification functions are in connection with forest concession managers and holders’ compliance with:
- the Chain of Custody System (COCS) or Traceability
- the forest management and harvesting requirement of the Legality Matrix
- undertake Chain – of – Custody and Legality Verification field inspections
The TVD will be an auditor of the implementation of the VPA and compliance by the following VPA implementing partners with their obligations as specified in the Legality Matrix. These include: The relevant FC departments: FSD /TIDD, and Private Timber Companies.
The field audits cover:
- forest management and administration,
- timber processing,
- transport and the related trade activities under the regulatory control of the FC.
- (Wood Tracking System- Database-Information-System-functions)
The TVD operates a Wood Tracking System (WTS) that generates and maintains a database (WTS) which will contain the following three distinct sets of data:
- The Traceability (COC) data – to facilitate reconciliation of data generated along the entire process chain of wood products destined for export and the domestic market
- Legal documents to be used to confirm compliance of timber consignments with the requirements in Timber Legality Matrix, and
- Legality Audit Data/information
- (FLEGT Program & Complaints- Quality-Management-Functions)
The TVD is to develop and implement a quality management system to ensure the delivery of quality services by the department in conformity with standards in the VPA text and L.I. 2254 in connection with:
- Record keeping
- Internal & External communication
- Complaint Management;
- Administration of the JMRM sessions
- Interaction with VPA stakeholders through M-SIC as well as
- Internal monitoring of TVDs operations.
Additional to the Director and three functional heads, there are 11 other staff members providing technical support across the various functional units. There is also a dedicated administrative officer responsible for the management of the office of the Director in particular and the entire department as a whole.
The VPA again spells out an accountability mechanism by the creation of a Timber Validation Committee(TVC) that shall ensure that the TVD discharges its functions in an independent, transparent and credible manner in regard to the administration of the LAS. The TVC has been established as an independent, oversight body with arms leght relationship with the FC and charged with the responsibility of playing a watchdog role over TVD in the LAS administration.