A delegation from the European Union (EU) has visited the Bobiri Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region to have first-hand insight into Ghana’s legality assurance system, forest law enforcement and trade licences.
Ghana’s legality assurance system is a regulation that ensures that timber products originate from legal and sustainable sources.
Led by the EU Ambassador to Ghana, Irchad Razaaly, the team was conducted round by the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey, together with some officers of the commission.
As part of the tour, the delegation was taken through the forest value chain — from the felling of legal timber till it is processed for the EU market — in conformity with the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.
Also, during the visit, the EU Ambassador engaged in dialogue with key stakeholders, including government officials, representatives from the forestry sector and local communities.
The tour lasted almost two hours, during which time they were driven through the thick forest, and finally to the Logs & Lumber Limited (LLL), an EU Licensed timber firm in Kumasi.
Mr Razaaly, after the tour, said he was impressed with the country for the efforts made, saying the systems were in line with the international standard practices.
“I am so far impressed with what I have seen today,” he told the media in an interview after the tour.
He gave an assurance that the EU and member countries would continually support Ghana’s efforts “to combat illegal logging, enhance forest governance and promote responsible trade in timber products.”
Mr Allotey said the Forestry Commission (FC) was aware of the repercussions which included revoking of Ghana’s licence by the EU, and hence the FC’s commitment to adhering to the accepted practices as required by EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.
By fostering sustainable forest management practices, Mr Allotey said Ghana continued to showcase its dedication to preserving its natural resources while contributing to global efforts for a more sustainable future.
The EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan was launched in 2003.
The plan sets out a series of supply and demand side measures aimed at reducing the trade in illegal timber.
Included among these measures is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which is a bilateral 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.
Once the system is fully operational, timber products demonstrating full legal compliance will be issued with FLEGT licenses.
Ghana was the first country to sign a VPA in November 2009.
The Gyasehene of Kubease — the gateway to the Bobiri Forest Reserve, Nana Kwame Santuo, during the engagement, said their share of five per cent of the gains made from the reserve was woefully inadequate, and thus appealed for it to be reviewed upwards since the proceeds were not enough to improve the lives of the people.
The Chief of Nobewam, Nana Yaw Kyere III, also appealed to the commission to adhere to the local content policy, where the teeming unemployed youth in the communities could be engaged in the activities of the timber industry.