Ghana is close to making history as the first country in Africa to get clearance to export timber to the European market by the end of the year.
This is after the country had met a series of requirements spelt out in the voluntary partnership agreement that was signed with the European Union (EU) over a decade ago.
Currently, processes are being finalised to issue the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licence to Ghana to ensure that the export of timber and wood products to the EU meets the acceptable standards.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission (FC), Mr John Allotey, said on January 21,
“We are seriously working on looking at our governance structure in terms of the forest sector, streamlining of our laws, enhancing the participation of local communities and civil society organisations (CSOs).
“We are at the very final part where there will be a joint assessment of the protocols we have followed so far to ensure that we are following the objectives that have been set out in the voluntary partnership agreement with the EU,” he said. Mr Allotey said this when the EU Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Diana Acconcia, led a delegation from the continental body and the ministry to pay a courtesy call on the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei Mensah, as part of a joint tour of some forest reserves in the region with the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh.
The tour is meant to take stock of the progress Ghana has made in the move towards achieving the feat of exporting wood products to the EU in a sustainable manner.
The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Forestry, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, and some key officials of the ministry, the EU, as well as the FC, are part of the tour.
Mr Allotey explained that when the country was finally given the green light to begin exporting wood products to the EU, it would mean that all protocols would have to be followed to ensure that timber was exported on a sustainable basis and within the scope of the law, while preserving the integrity of forest resources.
He gave an assurance that Ghana had done diligent work to soon achieve the feat as the first country in Africa and second in the world to meet the requirements of the voluntary partnership agreement with the EU.