Dr Irchad Razaaly, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ghana, has commended the country for its dedication and significant progress made in combating illegal logging and promoting sustainable forest management.
Mr Razaaly made this known when a delegation of EU officials and Forestry Commission (FC) visited the Bobiri Forest Reserve at Kubease in the Juaben Municipality, to obtain first-hand insights to Ghana’s legality assurance system and forest law enforcement and trade licenses.
The visit presented a platform for the EU to engage with key stakeholders, including government officials, representatives from the forestry sector, and local communities to ensure that timber products originated from legal and sustainable sources.
According to the Ambassador, the significant progress made by Ghana so far in emphasizing the importance of the legality assurance system and ensuring the traceability as well as legality of timber products are commendable.
As an important aspect of Ghana’s sustainable development agenda, the forest sector plays a crucial role in promoting economic growth, combating climate change, and preserving biodiversity. Mr Razaaly noted that the EU remains a strong supporter of Ghana’s efforts to combat illegal logging, enhance forest governance, and promote responsible trade in timber products.
Ghana’s ongoing commitment to sustainable forest management aligns with the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.
Mr. John Allotey, Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, stated that Ghana continues to showcase dedication to preserving natural resources, while contributing to global efforts for a more sustainable future. The team also visited the Logs and Lumber Limited (LLL), an industry player in timber trade in the Ashanti Region.
At LLL, the delegation gained insights into the company’s processes, procedures, and efforts to promote transparency, traceability, and sustainable practices throughout its supply chain.
The EU’s FLEGT Action Plan was launched in 2003 to set out a series of supply and demand side measures aimed at reducing the trade in illegal timber.
Among these measures is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which is a bi-lateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber exporting country that seeks to put in place systems to verify the legality of timber exports to the EU markets.
Once the system is fully operational, timber products demonstrating full legal compliance will be issued with FLEGT licenses.
Meanwhile, Ghana is the first country to sign a VPA in November 2009 and yet to be issued with a FLEGT license.
The agreement extended the list of timber products to be covered by the FLEGT license to include all timber products exported by Ghana. The agreement also made a strong case that the same legality standards should be applied to timber products destined for all export and domestic markets and not just the EU.
Ghana’s VPA also sets out a broad forest governance reform agenda that includes work to strengthen community rights of access and ownership over forest resources.