Demand for legally sourced wood and paper-based products in global markets has increased, as a result of changes in public and private procurement policies and trade regulations. Working Group on Forest Certification, an NGO responsible for promoting sustainable forest management in the Ghana with funding from the European Union is Strengthening the capacity of community-based forest stakeholders and key actors in the wood supply chain in three forest districts in the Western Region for the implementation of VPA/FLEGT, EU timber regulations and the domestic market policy.
As part of the project objectives, WG organized a day’s workshop to educate timber firms, communities, woodworkers and other stakeholders on the compliance of legal sourcing of wood to ensure sustainable forest management.
The one day workshop was held at the Queen Elizabeth Restaurant Conference Hall on the 11th of November, 2014 bought together timber companies, wood vendors, estate officers, and selected community leaders. Mr. Kwabena Acheampong Boakye, a legal practitioner with the Forestry Commission took the participants through the training.
Mr. Boakye started by explaining the meaning of illegal activities. According to him, illegal activities may relate to the violation of all relevant and applicable national laws and regulations. In the context of Ghana that has a wide range of forestry laws and regulations, he mentions that a clear definition of legality would mean deciding which aspects of these laws and regulations should apply when checking for compliance. This he said is important because illegal practices may relate to the allocation of timber harvesting rights, the source of timber, harvesting operations, transport, processing, market and export, payment of royalties and taxes, and declaration to customs. Also, a definition of legality may address the issue of sustainability, Mr. Boakye added.
Mr. Boakye went on to distinguish between illegal activities and illegal logging to the participants. He gave examples of illegal activities to include, invasion of public forest lands by rural families, communities or private corporation in order to convert to agriculture or other use, obtaining logging concessions through bribes. Examples of illegal logging included: logging protected species, logging outside concession boundaries, logging in protected areas, extracting more than the allowable cut, logging without authorization, etc. Mr. Boakye took time to explain the various practices that make an activity legal or comply with legal status.
Mr. Boakye also took the participants through Ghana’s forest legislation. He took them through the forest and wildlife policy. Participants were also introduced to the Timber Resource Management Act and the Timber Resource Management Regulation.
He thanked the participants and urged them to comply with the laws to protect the remaining of the nation’s forest after participants asked series of questions for clarifications.