Operators of Small and Medium Forest Enterprises (SMFEs) feel more capable of meeting Ghana’s timber legality standards (GhLAS) following interventions by the Kumasi Wood Cluster Association (KWC) and other Civil Society Organizations.
The latest in the series of such interventions is a close-out workshop held for SMFEs on the title “Supporting SMFEs to satisfy Harvesting requirements in the GhLAS” by the project implementers.
The event held on Thursday, September 16, 2021, at the True Vine Hotel took the 30 participants drawn from the high forest zones of Ghana through various requirements for harvesting timber.
The SMFEs expressed their ability and preparedness to follow the requirements laid out for them per the regulations. They explained that it will help their businesses grow while protecting the environment and sustaining forest resources for posterity.
Officials of the Forest Services Division (FSD), Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) and the Timber Validation Department (TVD) of the Forestry Commission were present and expressed great excitement about the project. They confessed that these interventions make their work easier and support rapid attainment of the legality requirements for the VPA-FLEGT licensing process in Ghana.
Frank Ankomah (PhD); the Verification Manager of the Timber Validation Department of the Forestry Commission applauded KWC and Preferred by Nature for successfully implementing the project and revealed that with the help of entities like KWC, Ghana will soon fulfil the requirements for FLEGT licensing which will be a major milestone in the VPA-FLEGT process in Ghana.
He said the project adequately covered the various legality principles including how to prepare and implement forest operational plans, operational maps and logging maps as well as issues of health and safety of timber workers.
Forestry Manager for Africa at Preferred by Nature; Eric Ofori Agyekum expressed confidence that the project will reflect positively on Ghana’s timber industry especially on the capacities of the SMFEs to meet the legality requirements. He revealed that his outfit has partnered with KWC on many successful projects hence their high level of confidence.
The General Manager of KWC; Mrs Esi A. Banful hinted that although the implementation of the project was successful, there were a few challenges. She cited the situation where some beneficiary companies viewed the project with suspicion and hence were not very cooperative. She advocated for more funding to enable KWC to organize refresher training for beneficiary companies and also extend the project to other timber companies. She also suggested that the inclusion of infographics in future training programmes will help get the message across to the timber companies.
KWC has been vital in Ghana’s journey towards the attainment of FLEGT Licenses by helping industry players through various training sessions with sponsorships from the FAO-EU-FLEGT Programme aimed at building their capacities as entrepreneurs and also empowering them to be able to operate within the country’s Timber Legality System.
A VPA is a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU. A VPA guarantees that any wood exported from a timber-producing country to the EU comes from legal sources and also helps partner countries stop illegal logging by improving forest governance and regulation.