Ghana: 80% of timber supplied illegally
Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission (FC), has disclosed that about 80 percent of timber products on Ghanaian markets are supplied by illegal chainsaw operators.
He said the situation called for a greater responsibility on the FC to put in place new system of vigilance and a flexible monitoring mechanism for full compliance.
Mr Dartey made the disclosure at a national consultative workshop on the draft procurement policy on timber and timber products in Koforidua to address the ever-growing demand for timber on the domestic market.
He said the draft procurement policy was to create an enabling environment for an efficient wood-based industry, by ensuring that more legal timber was put on the domestic market, while discouraging trade in illegal timber.
Mr Dartey said the timber industry used to provide livelihood for thousands of Ghanaians in the past, but presently, the sector was on the brink of collapse following years of neglect.
The procurement policy requires the central government, departments, their executive agencies, and all public bodies to procure timber and timber-derived products originating from only legal or sustainable sources.
He said the public procurement policy on timber products must be seen as a new social criterion to demonstrate the FC's commitment to use government purchasing power to help push illegal and unsustainable timber out of the domestic market, while addressing some other drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
He told the participants that unless a long-term co-existence with resources was adopted, the governance of the forest resources would still be challenging.
The Chief Executive said the issue of the supply of legal timber and sustainable forest management had become a global concern for both developed and developing nations, and Ghana could not afford to be left out in the fight against forest degradation and its associated far-reaching economic, social, environmental, and ecological consequences.
Mr Dartey said the domestic timber market policy proposal from which the procurement policy was drawn was developed on an account of some guiding principles.
He said those principles included balancing the supply and demand of timber from legal and sustainable managed forest on the domestic market; building a strong relationship between innovation, environment and industry regulations with the view to enhancing product quality on the domestic market.
Dr Alhasan Attah, Executive Director Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission, on his part said the biggest threat to the sustainable management of the nations forest resources could be traced to the pervasive and complex nature of illegal harvesting and trade in chainsaw lumber on the domestic market.
He said the country risked losing all its forest resources in less than two decades from now if concrete efforts were not taken to address that situation.
Dr Kwame Asamoah Adam, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Timber Millers Organization, said some years ago, Ghana had a very large forest cover, part of which was given out as concession to timber companies.
He said for lack of proper monitoring, Ghana which used to be a net exporter of timber products, was now importing timber products to feed the timber industry adding that the challenges in the timber industry were self-inflicted.
Dr Asamoah indicated that a public procurement policy on timber and timber products should be seen as a catalyst for the development of the Ghana timber trade and industry, by making sawmills to improve their performance and become more efficient.
He said the activities of some timber companies and illegal chain-saw operators had denied the country of large acres of forest covers.
“In the circumstance, not only do we face problems with the supply of timber products; the country is also under the threat of desertification” he maintained.