Stakeholders in forestry seek avenues to improve off-reserve logging

Ghana’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union seeks to support a wide range of governance initiatives.

The aim is to provide Ghanaian timber exporters with access to all EU markets for legal timber in line with the EU timber regulations.

Legal timber can be harvested from both reserve and off-reserve lands. Off-reserve forests are largely on community lands and these communities are required by law to be part of the process of identifying and granting off reserve areas to timber logging firms.

But there are challenges.
The Sustainable Forest Management Partnership – Ghana (SFMP-G) is implementing a project on “improving off-reserve logging to support a functional voluntary partnership agreement”.

Project Coordinator, Gustav Adu, says the project is to support the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) VPA implementation in Ghana, including community right to benefits in ORL.

“Landowners and farmers on whose lands timber is harvested if informed will negotiate reasonable compensation values as well as carry out effective monitoring of logging operations,” he said.

A multi-stakeholder dialogue in Kumasi set the tone for the project implementation.

Mr. Adu is hopeful the project will come up with recommendation to tackle challenges in the off-reserve logging.

“ORL could be maximized for farmers and community land owners, by the timely provision of information to them on the economic value of damaged crops and other land assets prior to negotiating fair compensation for such assets, including those damaged,” he noted.

Godwin Phylix Cudjoe, Programme Officer, responsible for the EU-FAO FLEGT Programme, has identified illegal logging, timber smuggling and trade of illegally sourced timber as major problems posing serious risks to the integrity of forest landscapes, climate change and negative economic impacts.

“The outcomes of this pilot project will contribute to the promotion of a multi-sectoral dialogue between the various stakeholders,” he said. “This dialogue and subsequent cooperation among the stakeholders will facilitate and improve forest law compliance and governance in the forest sector”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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