Head of EU Delegation commends progress on development of innovative Wood Tracking System (28/07/2010)
The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Ghana, Ambassador Claude Maerten, has commended the Ghana Forestry Commission (FC) on the progress made in recent months in the development of an innovative Wood Tracking System (WTS).
Ambassador Maerten’s comments were made following a trip to review pilot work of the WTS at Asenanyo Forest Reserve in Ashanti region. The FC is conducting the pilot work in partnership with Helveta in a logging compartment belonging to Messrs Kumi and Co. The WTS is being developed in the context of the EU-Ghana Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a trade agreement which relates to export and imports of legal timber products. The VPA was signed in Brussels in November, 2009.
Latest developments in the European Union and the United States of America, two key markets for high value Ghanaian timber products, is putting significant pressure on timber exporting countries to provide credible assurances of the legality of their timber exports.
In anticipation of these market changes Ghana commenced negotiations with the European Union (EU) in early 2007 on a ‘Voluntary Partnership Agreement’ (VPA). The VPA is part of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan, which supports countries committed to tackling challenges in their forest sector in order to reduce illegal logging and move towards sustainable forest management.
At the core of the VPA has been agreement by the Government of Ghana in consultation with civil society and private sector on a definition of "legal timber" based on Ghana’s existing laws.
A "Legality Assurance System" (LAS) which includes the WTS is currently being developed to ensure that this definition is adhered to. Timber companies must comply fully with the LAS in order to be granted a ‘FLEGT license’ by the FC for their timber exports to the EU when the LAS is fully established. Ambassador Maerten noted that Ghana is on course to be one of the first countries to export FLEGT licensed timber to the EU.
Ghana has a strong reputation for innovation in wood processing and value addition, making products particularly suited for the European market. Consequently, the EU is a valuable market for Ghana, accounting for 43% of the value of total exports and 33% of total volume. Ghana decided to enter into a VPA to demonstrate its commitment to good forest governance, and as a means to maintain access to valued markets and open up new markets. With the VPA Ghana also will promote investment in the sector to ensure the future viability of its industry.
EU Delegation to Ghana:
Rejoice Esi ASANTE