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Forestry Commission implements wood tracking system

Dec. 14, 2016, 12:36 p.m.

The Forestry Commission (FC) has begun the implementation of a wood tracking system in 17 out of the 46 forest districts to track wood supply from origin to final point of sale, as well as curb illegal logging.

The rollout of the project is expected to cover the remaining forest districts by the first quarter of next year.

The system contains all relevant data and statistics on forest operations.

It is currently working in Tarkwa, Asankragwa, Sefwi Wiawso, Sefwi Juaboso and Enchi in the Western Region; Goaso and Dormaa in the Brong Ahafo Region; Nkawie and Offinso in the Ashanti Region and Oda and Kade in the Eastern Region.

The system will enable Ghana to issue Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licences under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) reached with the European Union (EU).

Ghana and the EU signed the VPA in November 2009 to address the problem of illegal logging and trade in associated timber products.

The VPA with the EU helps improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber products.

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 aims at reducing illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber

The Director of the Timber Validation Department (TVD) of the FC, Mr Chris Beeko, who gave a status report of the implementation of the VPA in Ghana, said barring any unforeseen circumstance, the country would be able to meet all its legislative and policy requirements next year to begin issuing FLEGT licences to timber merchants by the end of 2017.

He was speaking at a project inception workshop organised by Civic Response, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the forestry sector, to roll out the implementation of the Civic Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) project.

Mr Beeko said a key advantage of the system was that it facilitated quick access to data and the reconciliation of the data to check whether or not there were discrepancies.

“If you have a purely paper-based system, it takes time for you to pick up anomalies, but with an electronic system, it is easier to reconcile, as the system flushes out all discrepancies from the point of harvest to export,” he said.

He said a key advantage of the system was that it helped to get access to data quickly and do reconciliation of the data to check whether or not there were anomalies.

The overall objective of the CSIFM project is to ensure that civil society actively monitors the issuing of credible, transparent and acceptable FLEGT licences.

It is a two-year project funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) - FLEGT Programme.

A FLEGT licence guarantees that timber from a VPA country had been harvested, processed and exported in accordance with national laws.

Indonesia is the first country in the world to issue a FLEGT licence.

The Head of Programmes at Civic Response, Mr Albert Katako, observed that the CSIFM would enable CSOs to guarantee the credibility and integrity of the country’s wood tracking system and the issuance of FLEGT licences, as well as making relevant information from the system publicly available to stakeholders.

The Technical Officer at Civil Response, Mr Obed Owusu-Addai, said, among other things, the project would train CSOs and other non-state participants in the industry to be observers during TVD audits.

He said at the end of the project, options would be explored to develop a Ghana Wood Tracking System web interface which would be easily accessible locally and internationally to provide more information on timber industry governance in the country.