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Ghana - 06 April, 2022
Ghana’s cabinet has approved the conversion of all 156 extant timber concessions and permits into Timber Utilization Contracts (TUC), after years of advocacy for same by Tropenbos Ghana.
The Timber Resources Management Act, 1997 (Act 547) prohibites the harvesting of timber without a TUC. Under the Act, all existing timber rights were to be valid for only six months and all holders were to apply for TUCs within six months of the passage of the Act. These were, however, not enforced after over two decades of the coming into force of the Act, a situation which led Tropenbos Ghana to strongly advocate for its implementation for years.
Prior to the Act, timber rights were granted in the form of timber concessions, leases, and permits. Tropenbos Ghana identified that the situation was among others contributing to the inequitable distribution of timber resources and also derailing efforts to fight illegal timber trade as well as deforestation.
In November 2009, Ghana signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to address illegal logging. The VPA sought to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreement also helps timber exporting countries like Ghana to stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector.
Nonetheless, Ghana was unable to fulfill the requirements of the VPA. The approval of the conversion which is expected to be ratified by parliament puts Ghana on the path of sustainable harvesting and trade of timber, especially with the European Union (EU). If ratified, Ghana will become the first African country to meet the European Union’s requirement to trade in legal timber and the second in the world, next to Indonesia.