Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
OFFICIAL actions taken by the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines over the last four years to combat illegal logging in the country has resulted in a shift in preference for certified timber on the international market.
Currently, producers who are unable to certify the origins of their products as coming from sustainably managed forests or from legal sources are finding it increasingly difficult to trade on the international market.
The Deputy Minister of the sector, Mr Andrew Adjei-Yeboah, made this known during a forum organised with the National House of Chiefs (NHC) on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) in Kumasi.
The VPA, which was borne out of the action plan of the European Union (EU) and African Governments to combat illegal logging, is aimed at agreeing to standards with which legal compliance would be measured, as well as a system through which the origin of the product would be ascertained.
Under the agreement, products from partner countries that are unable to meet the set standards would be denied access to the EU market.
The forum with the NHC was to seek views from the chiefs, as stakeholders in the forest sector, on critical issues that would make the VPA succeed.
Mr Adjei-Yeboah noted that Ghana could not run away from the international trends that promoted the development of protocols and conventions for responsible purchasing and consumption patterns.
He said a standard timber trade practice was in the process of coming into being with the EU as the driving force.
“It is, therefore, imperative for Ghana to pay close attention to what happens on the international market, especially in the EU,” the deputy minister said.
Mr Adjei-Yeboah said that Ghana and the EU were negotiating a number of issues that would bring sanity into the timber business.
Among the issues were the system of verification of legality, including timber licensing system, independent monitoring of the entire legality system and mitigation of possible impacts of the VPA, including options for ensuring legal timber supply.
The President of the NHC, Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, commended the Forestry Commission and the Ministry for reaching out to chiefs on the VPA.
He noted that chiefs, as custodians of the land, had a huge say in ensuring sanity in the management of the forests.
He pledged the support of the house to ensure that Ghana would achieve maximum benefits from the arrangements with the EU.