Ghana was one of the first countries to have signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) in 2009. Thirteen years later, Ghana is poised to become the first country in Africa to issue Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) timber licenses, thereby enabling all its licensed timber products to automatically meet EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) legality requirements, facilitating their entry into the EU market. While Ghana has made significant efforts to develop a national system to track and verify legality and control illegal timber imported into the country, a December 2020 independent assessment of all aspects of Ghana’s licensing system concluded that the system was not ready for FLEGT licensing, and some corrective actions were required.
Ghana will begin issuing FLEGT licenses when the timber legality assurance system has been successfully tested, and when Ghana and the EU are satisfied that it functions as described in the VPA. In Europe, a FLEGT licence denotes complete compliance with the EUTR for European importers, however, a FLEGT licence may not in and of itself guarantee compliance with timber import regulations in other jurisdictions, such as the U.S. Lacey Act in the United States. This dashboard summarizes currently available information on the legality risks associated with sourcing timber from Ghana.
- Ghana is in the process of developing a mandatory system to verify the legality of timber production and trade and is expected to become the first African nation to issue Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses.
- Illegal logging is reportedly declining but the illegal harvest and trade, particularly of high value species, continues to be reported.
- NGO reports have also documented concerns related to the illegal harvest and trade in kosso mainly destined for China and Southeast Asian markets even though there is a government directive banning the harvest of kosso.
- The illegal trade in high value species is reportedly facilitated by hierarchical corruption and weak enforcement of forest laws.
- Enforcement is improving with on the ground audits suggesting high levels of legal compliance by logging companies.
Read more by downloading the Ghana Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.
Some residents of the Savannah Region have expressed worry and disappointment in the traditional authorities and government for allowing commercial charcoal business in the region despite the ban. The canker has resurfaced in the region after a ban was placed on the activities illegal logging, charcoal burning, fuelwood harvesting and small scale mining activities as part of measures geared toward preserving forest reserves as well as prevent economically viable trees from being destroyed.
Illegal chainsaw operators engaged in felling of trees and extraction of natural resources are threatening the landscape and forest reserves of the Western Wildlife Corridor and the Northern Savannah Forest Zone.
Thursday, March 31, 2022 will be recorded in the annals of Ghana’s forestry sector as one of its most remarkable days. On this day, the current Cabinet, at its 26th meeting, approved the conversion of 156 timber concessions and permits into Timber Utilisation Contracts (TUCs), introduced as a major policy reform in the forestry sector to provide for a competitive system of allocating timber resources.
The Forestry Commission, through its surveillance task force, has arrested 55 illegal miners in the Atewa Forest Reserve over the last six months. Madam Joyce Ofori Kwafo, Head, Corporate Affairs and Media Relations, Forestry Commission, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said a total of 15 different operations carried out between October 2021 and March 2022 led to the arrest of the culprits.
The Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape have called for a full investigation into the negligence and connivance of Forestry Commission staff at the Kyebi District Office in protecting the Atewa Forest. The Group, at a press conference, said illegal activities in the Atewa Forest had escalated in the past six months without any measures to protect and preserve the forest and its biodiversity.
Ghana has for years remained a key exporter of timber. However, stakeholders have been struggling to deal with illegal felling of trees, which made timber exports from Ghana fall short of the European Union’s guidelines. In a bid to address the worrying situation and also improve revenue mobilization, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission have launched the digitalized property mark registration and renewal process and the Ghana electronic wood tracking system.
The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission has described illegal logging in forest reserves as a national security issue that calls for a holistic approach. John Allotey says the rampant issue, especially in Bono, Ahafo, and Western North corridors, threaten rich forest reserves and commission staff, especially forest guards.