Working Group (WG) on Forest Certification is an NGO in the forestry sector working towards achieving responsible forest governance in Ghana. The organization is partnering with EU to strengthen community-based forest stakeholders and key actors in the wood supply chain in three major timber producing areas in Ghana for the implementation of EU timber regulations and the new domestic market policy. In line with the project’s objectives, thirty selected communities in the three forest districts were sensitized. These communities are Abesinsuom, Affulkrom, Kwakummekrom, Besie, Chine, Kojina, Kunkumso, Merewa, Adjakaa Manso and Nkronuah in the Bibiani Forest District; Aboaonidua, Amafie, Aboboyaa, Old-Adiembra, Bosomoiso, Anyinabrim, Anwiam, Gyampokrom, Boako, and Kesekrom in the Sefwi Wiawso Forest District; Sefwi Boizan, Kwaokrom, Abrokofe, Elubo, Metemano, Boizan-Adiembra, Asempanaye, Benchima, Antobia, and Danyame in the Sefwi Wiawso Forest District.
The objectives of this sensitization are;
● Publicize the project and its goals among forest-fringed communities and to build their support towards the smooth implementation of the project.
● Educate communities on FLEGT-VPA/EUTR, the benefits, and expected roles and responsibilities under the implementation of the VPA requirements.
● Facilitate the selection and formation of local projects committees.
To allow greater extension coverage, group discussions were used as a tool to ensure effective participation of both men and women in the communities. The programme covered EUTR, VPA and the implementation and monitoring of the Legality Assurance System (LAS). The LAS is the main aspect of the European Union-Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) initiative that most forest stakeholders and key actors in the wood supply chain will be individually accountable. More importantly, the communities were made to understand how effective implementation of the LAS will have far-reaching impacts on forest governance at the local levels. This was done with the rationale for building the communities support and commitment towards the smooth implementation of the VPA. It was also for the people to know their expected roles and responsibilities and the socio-economic benefits they will derive from the VPA. The sensitization programme highlighted the monitoring of forest operations as the key role of communities under the VPA implementation process.
The communities were further urged to be actively involved in the project’s implementation processes and work with the project team anytime they come or call on them. This activity was carried out in series between April and December 2014.