Business News of Wednesday, 20 March 2013
A joint effort between Ghana’s Forestry Commission and Tropenbos International Ghana, an NGO dedicated to ensuring sustainable forest management, has resulted in a policy that seeks to improve the supply of legal lumber to the domestic market.
The policy comes after years of discussion between forest stakeholders to find viable alternatives to the illegal chainsaw milling which accounts for about 84% of domestic lumber needs.
The policy, endorsed by all stakeholders including the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, aims to eliminate illegal chainsaw operations and to ensure the supply of legal lumber to the domestic market on a sustainable basis. It also seeks to promote good forest governance and provide a framework that facilitates production and trade of legal timber on the domestic market.
According to Trobenbos, a key principle of the policy is to provide a “framework for developing and regulating the domestic timber market in anticipation of expansion and growth of the construction and housing industry, while addressing the drivers of illegal chainsaw operations, deforestation and forest degradation”.
A statement issued by the NGO added that, “under the policy, strategies to improve the supply of legal timber to meet the over 600,000 cubic metre perannum demand by the domestic market will include developing a framework to stimulate sawmills to supply at least 40% of their production to the domestic market.
“Others include promoting artisanal milling as an alternative to the illegal chainsaw milling while creating resource access to artisanal millers through appropriate administrative and legal arrangements.”
To eliminate illegal timber production and trade, a wood-tracking system for the domestic market will be implemented and legislation on the ban of chainsaw milling strengthened. Also, a public procurement policy on timber and timber products will be implemented.
Stakeholders have high expectations for the policy on the domestic timber market. When successfully implemented, the policy will help meet the rising local demand for lumber and reduce the illegalities associated with the production and trade of timber in Ghana.
The policy is also expected to facilitate the modernisation and the retooling of the timber industry as well as promote community-based forest enterprises (including fuel-wood plantations) as alternative livelihoods for forest-fringe communities.
This policy on domestic lumber supply has been driven mainly by stakeholders under the European Union-supported Chainsaw Milling Project, which aims at finding sustainable solutions to the problems associated with the production of legal lumber for local timber markets.
The project is being carried out by Tropenbos International Ghana in collaboration with the Forestry Research Institute (FRI) of Ghana and the Forestry Commission.
It is estimated that government loses over US$18million annually through the activities of illegal chainsaw milling. According to FRI, the loss is nearly twice the annual revenue (stumpage fees) collected by the Forestry Commission.