Artisanal Milling Defined

Artisanal Milling Defined

Ghana - 11 February, 2013

The process for defining Artisanal Milling as part of operationalising a policy option to supply legal lumber to the domestic market has been concluded during the 9th National Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD) meeting on 7th November, 2012 at the Forestry Commission (FC) Auditorium in Accra.

In the quest for a viable alternative to illegal chainsaw milling in Ghana, stakeholders of both the EU Chainsaw milling project and a parallel process led by the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the FC decided that both sawmills and artisanal millers supply the domestic market with legal timber obtained from sustained yield. This option has been elaborated in a policy proposal for the supply of legal lumber to the domestic market.

What has been missing in the policy, however, is a stakeholder consensus on the definition of Artisanal Milling (AM). This definition is critical: without defining what AM is, it will be difficult to develop an effective policy. Several MSD meetings have been held toward defining AM. A parallel process led by the TIDD of the FC also aimed at supporting the definition of AM. None of the two processes could yield a definition of AM acceptable to all national stakeholders. Nevertheless, after two years of desperate search the dust finally settled when a number of proposed definitions was consolidated into one that is widely acceptable to key stakeholders, including the Forestry Commission, Ghana Timber Millers Organisation, Chainsaw Operators and the Domestic Lumber Traders’ Association.

The agreed definition which will feed into the national policy is as follows:

"Artisanal milling is small-medium scale milling of timber from specified legal sources by a trained, certified, registered and licensed Ghanaian artisan, using licensed mobile sawmilling equipment that excludes any form of chainsaw machines, capable of recovering at least 50% of dimension lumber from logs, for the domestic market only. This may be processed in-situ or ex-situ".

The EU chainsaw milling project aims to find sustainable solutions to the problems associated with the production of lumber for local timber markets by involving all stakeholders in dialogue, information gathering and the development of alternatives to unsustainable chainsaw milling practices. In Ghana this project is being carried out by Tropenbos International (TBI) in collaboration with the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) and the Forestry Commission (FC).