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General News of Wednesday, 23 October 2019


Civic Response, Resource Trust assist Ghana to regulate forest sector

Civic Response in collaboration with Resource Trust, both natural resource and environmental NGOs, has started a process to gather data on the forest sector to feed into Ghana-European Union Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) impact monitoring framework.

Civic Response and Resource Trust are implementing the project called: “Collecting Data to contribute to the implementation of Ghana’s VPA impact monitoring framework.”

To last for 16 months, the data collection process would involve the collection of baseline information on identified gaps in three VPA impact areas, namely; Livelihoods, Forest Condition, made up of illegal timber and confiscated timber as illegal removals, as well as the VPA Stakeholder Deliberative processes.

These three areas are part of the seven VPA impact areas, with the remaining four being Forest Governance, Market Performance, Forest Management, and Revenue Collection, of which baseline information are to be collected to help develop better understanding of the livelihoods of potentially affected stakeholders.

The data collection activity falls under the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade-Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT -VPA), to assess the impact of the VPA implementation in those three areas among timber or forest districts like Nkawie, Goaso, Akyem Oda, Sefwi Wioso and Bole.

The FLEGT-VPA, an European Action Plan, established in 2005, which Ghana signed some 10 years ago, provides the vehicle to improve governance in the timber export sector, identified as one of the major underlying causes of illegal logging in the country.

The VPA, signed with timber-producing countries in Africa, Asia and South America was to help the countries legislate to reduce illegal logging and prevent such timber from entering the European markets.

Ghana, through the FLEGT VPA, is expected to improve forest governance, which had been identified as one of the major underlying cause of illegal logging in the country.

The two environmental NGOs, at an inception meeting in Accra, allowed stakeholders from the Ghana Statistical Service, Forestry Commission, EU, and FAO, among others to look at the project's framework and make inputs.

Mr Albert Katako, Programme Manager of Civic Response, explained that the FAO-EU FLEGT programme was sponsoring the two organisations to collect data in the three areas to help with the VPA project in Ghana.

He said the work would involve gathering of data on income levels in forest fringe communities in forest window districts, the ratio of revenue disbursed by the Office of the Administration of Stool Lands, farmers compensation according to market values, and check the ratio of legal timber to illegal timber among other activities.

Mr Joseph Osei, the Director of Resource Trust, said the collection of data would help update and monitor the trends to determine whether the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) was having a positive impact on Ghana or not.

“Where it is positive we will strengthen it but where the impact is negative, then steps would be taken to correct that,” he said.

He said the fresh data to be collected would complement those available in some institutions to update the Agreement.

Mr Chris Beeko, the Director, Timber Validation Department, Forestry Commission, commended the civil society groups for their keen participation and support to government in helping to implement the VPA.

He said a lot of work had been done in ensuring that Ghana produced and issued the FLEGT license before any timber was exported.