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General News of Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Source: Daily Graphic

EU Rejects Ghana Timber Certificates

The European Union market is rejecting certificates accompanying Ghana?s timber products because they are not certain of their validity, Mr. Chris Beeko, a Project Coordinator working on the validation of Legal Timber Programme, has said.

Validity of certificates is an international requirement to ensure the source of the timber in order to prevent the entry of the so-called conflict area logs from entertaining the international market.

The rejection of the certificates by the EU market and currently by the G8 group of industrialized countries is thus aimed at controlling the illegal logging of timber in developing countries, most of who use the revenue to fuel civil wars.

Mr. Beeko, who was speaking at a workshop organized by the Forestry Commission observed that the country may lose its revenue from timber exports if the processes involved Validation Legal Timber Programme (VLTP) was not expedited.

He explained that the VLTP was an extended programme of the Logging Tracking System, which sought to remove illegalities in the sector on the domestic level while the VLTP?s main focus was to tackle problems mainly on the international level.

He expressed the hope that funding would be made available to enable the technical committee to complete work on the VLTP by January next year.

The Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Professor Dominic Fobih, said that significant reforms had taken place within he last six years with the aim of achieving good forest sector governance through effective monitoring and law enforcement.

He noted that illegal logging was reducing the capacity of regulatory institutions to sustainably manage forest resources. The minister hinted that the government was aware of the increasing demand from European and other markets for authenticated certificates to accompany imported wood products.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr. A. S. K. Boachie-Dapaah, said that owing to the rapid population growth of the country, the requirements of forest management had become more complex and demanding than it was in the past.

He noted that the activities of illegal logger and chain saw operators was now a major challenge to forest management in the country, and added that although a number of legislation had been directed at the issue.