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FORESTRY COMMISSION AND FAO FIGHT ILLEGAL TIMBER TRADE
Posted: 03 Nov 2016

 

 In their bid to combat illegal timber trade, the Forestry Commission (FC) and four  other institutions are to receive funding from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). This deal was sealed with the signing of Letters of Agreement between the FAO and the beneficiary institutions at the Forestry Commission Headquarters in Accra.

The beneficiary organisations are expected to use the funding to help in the implementation and harmonization of activities geared towards Ghana’s VPA implementation.

The beneficiary institutions are the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) and the Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) both of  F.C.;   The Nature and Development Foundation; Kumasi Wood Cluster Association; and the  Ghana Timber Millers Association(GTMO).

Giving his remarks, Mr. Chris Beeko, Director of the Timber Validation Department of the Forestry Commission who chaired the event, said that a lot of progress has been made on the journey to the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). But then there was the need for more collaboration with stakeholders to ensure its successful implementation.  He mentioned that Ghana has been highly recommended for multi-stakeholder collaboration so all stakeholders should put their hands to the plow to ensure the successful implementation of the VPA.

Mr. Samuel Afari Dartey, the CE of Forestry Commission, in his welcome address gave a walk through Ghana’s VPA implementation milestones which shows considerable change in the forest sector since the signing of the agreement between Ghana and the European Union. He gave updates of Ghana’s preparation towards the issuance of timber legality licenses and also highlighted some of the changes which are to be expected as a result of the introduction of these new elements of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement. “It has taken us sometime, efforts and tact to chalk these VPA milestones because of the magnitude of change these elements present to the sector.

As we indicated at the country level during the negotiation of the agreement, our quest in entering into and implementing the VPA was not only to maintain our access to the changing market in Europe, but to take advantage of all that the VPA presented to improve upon our technical systems, law enforcement and sustainable forest management as a whole,” he said.

In a statement by H.E William Hanna, the Ambassador of the EU Delegation, he mentioned that in 2013, the EU Timber Regulation came into force, placing an obligation on the European private sector to put in place due diligence systems to ensure that their timber supplies were coming from legal sources. If a company importing timber supplies into the EU did not have such systems in place, they could be prosecuted. He emphasized that the FLEGT license that Ghana will soon be issuing, will be considered to have met all due diligence obligations under the EUTR and as a result, this demand side measure will reinforce the supply side reforms that Ghana has undertaken to eliminate illegal timber from the supply chain.

Amb Hanna mentioned that nother initiative aimed at reducing the demand for chainsaw lumber on the domestic market was the Government of Ghana’s decision to develop a public procurement policy that once approved, will require that only timber from legal sources be used in government –financed contracts. A year ago, the Ambassador of the EU and the Hon. Nii Osah Mills, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, took the opportunity to go into the field together with the staff of the Forestry Commission to see what has been achieved. “I was genuinely impressed by the work that had been done to put in place systems and procedures to verify the legality of timber,” Amb. Williams Hanna said..

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Country Representative to Ghana Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, in his statement emphasized on the  importance of the forest sector. He said forests support not only a wide range of ecosystems across the globe, but also the fringe communities that depend on them for food, clean water, and other valuable resources for their livelihoods. He continued by saying that  forests also play a vital role of storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide, a major source of climate-disrupting gases.

He stated emphatically that the forest is under threat from unsustainable uses such as illegal logging that drive deforestation, harms communities and deprives government of tax revenues. Furthermore, illegally sourced wood depresses prices and makes business more difficult for companies working to demonstrate legal production.

 

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