Business News of 2014-06-10

Ghana, EU to intensify fight against illegal logging

Ghana and the European Union (EU) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

The FLEGT is part of efforts by the EU to fight illegal logging and associated trade on its markets by timber supplying countries, including Ghana.

It is also part of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Ghana and the EU in 2009 to address the problem of illegal logging and trade in associated timber products.

Addressing the media after the signing of the FLEGT Action Plan, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Ms Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, said the introduction of the law would enable Ghana and the EU to halt trade in illegal timber and also give Ghana the licence to verify the legality of timber export to the EU market.

Wood tracking system

She indicated that a wood tracking system had been developed to help the Forestry Commission (FC) track illegal logging activities before they entered the EU market.

“The tracking system makes use of the latest technology to manage data collected by FC officials using electronic hand-held devices at various control points throughout the supply chain,” she explained.

Ms Asamoah noted that field tests of the wood tracking system had concentrated on flows from forest stumps to the processing mill, saying that testing was now being extended to procedures for tracking wood through processing stages to the point of export.

She indicated that a Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM) session by the EU and Ghana had successfully been completed to facilitate the monitoring and review of the implementation of the VPA.

EU Ambassador

The Head of the EU Delegation, Mr Claude Maerten, said the move by Ghana was laudable, noting that it demonstrated global leadership not only in the application of the wood tracking technology but also the whole field of forest governance.

“The EU now encourages Ghana to take the last remaining steps towards full operation of the system and issue of a VPA licence as soon as possible. By so doing, Ghana will be able to fully exploit new market opportunities for legally licensed timber following the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and similar laws in other timber large importing countries,” Mr Maerten added.