DOLTA Allays Fear On ‘FLEGT’ Licensing As It Calms Down Local Timber Operators

The Domestic Lumber Trade Association (DOLTA) after several agitations by its members and some other local timber operators over the introduction of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade scheme (FLEGT) by the European Union has finally spoken.

DOLTA is made up of domestic lumber traders, table top machine operators, chainsaw operators and transporters.

It has membership of about 25,000 people in Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Central regions.

The association’s objectives are to bring together all lumber traders and their associates under one national association to engage government on issues relating to domestic lumber trade.

Mr Kwadjo Siaw, a Project officer for DOLTA, last Tuesday explained to Journalists that the FLEGT Action Plan was a voluntary scheme to ensure that only legally harvested timber was imported into the EU from countries agreeing to participate.

According to him, about 84% of lumber operations were recorded from illegal sources, whilst 16% have been recorded as legal sources.

He said the internal EU legal framework for the scheme was a Regulation adopted in December 2005, and a 2008 Implementing Regulation, to control the entry of timber to the EU from countries entering into bilateral FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA).

‘Once agreed, the VPAs will include commitments and action from both parties to halt trade in illegal timber, notably with a license scheme to verify the legality of timber exported to the EU. The agreements also promote better enforcement of forest law and promote an inclusive approach involving civil society and the private sector.’ He noted.

At an inception programme, dubbed ‘preparing for FLEGT: What SMEs need to know about VPA’, Mr. Victor Nyadi, the President for DOLTA, further added that in 2009, Ghana was the first country to complete its VPA negotiations with the EU, and that ‘it encompasses both the external market of the EU and the domestic marketthis means that the legality assurance system developed in accordance with the VPA equally applies to the domestic market’.

He said the domestic market was an integral part of the VPA and that it was attested by space given it in all the aide-memoires of the Joint Monitoring Review Mechanisms (JMRM).

According to him, although much could be said of the globally acclaimed high level of space created and opened for participants in diverse forms of multi-stakeholder platforms in the buildup of Ghana’s VPA negotiations, they still had more to do on information dissemination on the FLEGT/VPA issues.

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