Supply of illegal timber to the domestic market has become one of the main forest governance issues in Ghana today. Although outlawed in 1998, illegal chainsaw milling (CSM) has become the major supplier (about 84%) of timber to the domestic market. Discussions on chainsaw milling have become an important part of the EU-Ghana Voluntary Partnership Agreement since the country cannot fully meet the legality assurance aspect of the agreement without adequately addressing supply of illegal timber to the domestic market.
Tropenbos International in partnership with the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) and Forestry Commission (FC) and supported by the EU implemented a project “Developing alternatives for illegal chainsaw milling (CSM) through multi-stakeholder dialogue” that sought to address the problem of illegal CSM in Ghana. Key findings from the project included that CSM is increasing because (1) the high demand for lumber on the domestic market is not being met from sawmills and (2) CSM provides livelihood support to a wide range of local people and thus plays a significant role in rural economies. Based on these findings, and supported by sound scientific information, forest stakeholders in Ghana reached a consensus through their representation in the multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) of the EU Chainsaw Milling Project, that a policy option that allows artisanal millers (found in local communities) to join selected sawmills in supplying legal lumber for the domestic market is best for addressing illegal CSM in Ghana.. This proposal has since been accepted by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and modalities for implementing it are being worked out by the Forestry Commission. Meanwhile, forest concession holders, aggregated in the Ghana Timber Association, have access to legal timber and are engaged in logging and supplying of logs to the wood processing mills in Ghana. However, lack of market for logs of lesser used species, which are not popular on the export market and therefore not wanted by the export-oriented sawmills in Ghana, is seriously constraining the concession holders. TBI Ghana, in conjunction with its partners including the Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission, is therefore piloting this project that seeks to link local communities (artisanal millers) with forest concession holders to produce legal lumber for the domestic market. The project seeks to develop and pilot artisanal milling models to demonstrate the potential of artisanal milling in addressing the domestic lumber supply problem. Beyond facilitating partnership between local communities and forest concession holders, the project will also build capacity of local actors to participate in a monitoring system to be developed for tracking lumber for the domestic market. This will build on the Wood Tracking System developed by Ghana’s Forestry Commission for the implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreement. The project will be carried out in two regions (Eastern and Brong-Ahafo regions) in the High Forest Zone of Ghana where the practice is prevalent and the potential for collaboration exists.It is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations under the “ACP/EU-FLEGT Support Programme” .