Government has signed a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) to only export legally acquired timber to the European Union (EU) market.
To ensure the sustainability of the VPA and forest conservation, government in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) private lumbering companies, and other key stakeholders are cooperating to develop a domestic legal wood market policy.
The process which is being led by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource (MNLR) in collaboration with Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), Forestry Commission of Ghana, private logging companies and other key stakeholders, would ensure the development of strategies for the implementation of sustainable consumption of wood by government.
The strategy, upon completion will be submitted for Cabinet’s review.
Indeed, Ghana’s forest reserves are dwindling at an alarming rate of two percent per annum, with about 480.000 m3 woods harvested illegally for both export and domestic use.
At a stakeholder dialogue organized by NDF in Accra to review the proposed domestic market strategies, Mr. Mustapha Seidu, Director of NDF, stated that government as the biggest procurement entity must use its purchasing power to lead the process of increasing the production of legal wood for the local market.
He alleged that the government uses public funds to procure illegal wood for its construction projects, therefore contributing to the increase in the degradation of its natural resources.
He however applauded government’s commitment to collaborate with CSOs and the private sector to come up with guidelines for driving legal wood trade locally.
Meanwhile, the Technical Directorate of the Department of Forestry at MLNR, bemoaned how fast Ghana’s timber stock is being depleted, which can lead to its inability to provide enough wood to meet local demand shortly if proactive measures are not put in place to remedy the situation.
“If government leads the way and demand for legal timber during procurement, it will encourage the private sector to follow suit” Mr. Abu Juam, director at the Department of Forestry at MLNR noted.