timber from the country to the European market.
As a first step in this direction, the Government of Ghana and the European Union in November 2009, signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement on the export of timber and wood products from Ghana to the EU under a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade agreement.
Illegal logging and timber trade not only undermine forest conservation, but also results in the lost of revenue to government.
As a follow up to the agreement, the two parties have held a joint monitoring and review session to access progress made so far.
Before the session, GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Minister of lands and Natural Resources, Collins Dauda told media practitioners that the decision to sign the Voluntary partnership agreement was to maintain the European timber market to take advantage of opportunities that the initiative presents.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ghana saw in the Forest law Enforcement initiative of the EU an opportunity to advance certain governance declaration that Africa had made collectively,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
For sustainability of the GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s timber trade, the Minister observed that there would be a need to increase the resource base of the country.
A national plantation development programme is being pursued as part of efforts to build robust systems that would guarantee the future supply of the raw material.
According to Mr Dauda, measures to control illegal logging on the domestic market are on-going.
He said the necessary synergies with other related initiatives such as the Reduce Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) was also being considered as part of measures to preserve GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s forest.
Luis Riera Figueras, Director General of Development commended Ghana for being the first country in West Africa to initial the agreement.
He noted that the move would facilitate the EUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s support for GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s forest preservation programme to improve forest governance.
Mr Figueras was confident that compliance with forestry legislation and licensing under the agreement would lead to the prevention of illegal logging and enhance timber trade between the two countries.
Per the agreement, Ghana would build a system that guarantees that all forestry products exported from the country to the EU are legally acquired and produced through verifiable means.
The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan contains a number of measures including the promotion of trade in legally felled timber through agreements with major timber-exporting countries to reduce deforestation.