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Ghana - 16 March, 2012
Forest communities in Ghana will soon be producing lumber to shore up the volume of legal lumber supply for the domestic market. This is to be made possible as Tropenbos International Ghana implements a project that seeks to link local communities to forest concession holders to produce legal lumber under the FAO/ACP/EU-FLEGT Support Programme.
The project was launched by the Executive Director of the Timber Industry Development Division during an inception workshop on Monday, March 12th, 2012 at the Forestry Commission in Accra. The launch was attended by key project stakeholders including the EU Ghana Delegation, the Accra Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, chainsaw operators, community representatives, the Forestry Commission and its divisions including the Timber Industry Development Division, Timber Validation Division and the Resource Management Support Centre. Representatives from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the media were also present.
This project is being implemented on the heels of a yawning gap between domestic supply and demand for legal timber, partly because of the inability of conventional sawmillers to supply enough lumber for domestic use. This has partly created space for the proliferation of illegal chainsaw milled timber production that now supplies about 84% of lumber on the domestic market. To find alternatives to illegal chainsaw milling and to increase the volume of legal lumber supply, forest stakeholders, by their representation in the multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) of the EU chainsaw milling project, have proposed a policy that allows artisanal millers to join selected sawmills in supplying legal lumber for the domestic market.
Forest concession holders, aggregated in the Ghana Timber Association, have access to legal timber and are engaged in logging and supplying of logs to the wood processing mills in Ghana. The lack of market for logs of lesser used species, which are not popular on the export market and therefore not wanted by the export-oriented sawmills in Ghana, is seriously constraining the concession holders.
TBI Ghana, in conjunction with its partners including the Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission, is therefore piloting this project to build the capacity of local communities in artisanal milling to process lesser-used species and convert logging residues produced by forest concession holders to usable products. The Ghana Timber Association has expressed strong interest and willingness to work with local communities in artisanal milling given the needed support. The project spanning a twelve-month period beginning January 2012 is being implemented in eight communities drawn from Bechem, Goaso, Begoro and Kade Forest Districts in Ghana.
Beyond facilitating partnership between local communities and forest concession holders, the project is also expected to clarify the concept of artisanal milling and develop models for its operationalisation. The project will also build capacity of local actors to participate in a monitoring system to be developed for tracking lumber for the domestic market. This will build on the Wood Tracking System developed by Ghana’s Forestry Commission for the implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreement. It is anticipated that linking the actors this way can provide communities with a legal alternative livelihood opportunity, improve turnover for forest concession holders, reduce timber waste and make legal lumber available for the domestic market.