Ghana: Roadmap to revitalize forest resource sector

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The Minster for Lands and Natural Resources, Prof. Nii Osah Mills, has launched a three pronged strategy designed to address the challenges facing the country’s forest and wildlife sectors.

The strategies are set out in the ‘Ghana Forestry Development Master Plan’, the ‘Ghana National REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) Strategy’ and the ‘Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy’. The aim is to transform the natural resource sector.

The Forestry Development Master Plan is a 20-year Action Plan, designed to fully implement the 2012 Forest and Wildlife Policy, which has shifted the focus from over-reliance on timber revenues to conservation of biodiversity and increased revenues from eco-tourism and payment for eco-system services.

The Forestry Development Master Plan provides a sound basis for attainment of the aims of the Forest and Wildlife Policy and its successful implementation could maximise the rate of social and economic development in the country.

The Ghana National REDD Strategy aims at assisting the country to prepare itself for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to position the country for the implementation of an international mechanism for REDD.

The Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy details how the government and private sector can reforest degraded forest lands by developing commercial forest plantations of recommended exotic and indigenous tree species at an annual rate of 20,000.

VPA legislation ready for parliamentary discussion

Additionally, the strategy targets the maintenance and rehabilitation of an estimated 235,000 ha of existing forest plantations as well as enrichment planting of 100,000 ha of under-stocked forest reserves with high value indigenous timber species over the same period.

Representatives of Ghana and the European Union met 18 November 2016 in Accra to review progress on the implementation of the Ghana-EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve forest governance and verify the legality of Ghana’s timber trade.

A Ghana-EU VPA Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM),which includes representatives of all stakeholder groups, oversees the implementation of the Agreement.

A recent meeting the JMRM reviewed the status of development of Ghana’s timber legality assurance system and discussed outstanding issues to be addressed before FLEGT licensing can begin. When issued, the FLEGT license will enable Ghana’s timber products to enter the EU market without importers having to do further due diligence to meet their obligations under the EU Timber Regulation.

Musah Abu-Juam, Technical Director of Ghana Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources presented the draft legislation which will be submitted to Ghana’s Parliament for enactment. When this legislation is adopted Ghana’s forest governance will be enhanced and it will pave the way to meeting the terms of the VPA.

In addition to this development Musa said Ghana was addressing the illegal trade in timber in the domestic market through a new system for tracking timber in the domestic market which involves both suppliers and traders.

Benoist Bazin, Team Leader for Infrastructure and Development at the Delegation of the European Union to Ghana said “These major achievements show that Ghana continues to strengthen forest governance through the VPA and is advancing toward FLEGT licensing.”

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