Ghana has entered into a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) to ensure that timber exported into the EU from the country complied with international legal requirements.

The EU is one of the biggest global markets for timber products and the VPA forms part of the Union?s action plan to combat illegal logging with the underlying strategy being the requirement of legality licences for timber export.

A sensitisation workshop was organised by Working Group on Forest Certification, a non-governmental organisation, to equip journalists with information on the VPA and how it could advance the interest of the lumber industry in Ghana.

Benefits of the VPA to Ghana

The Director at the Timber Validation Division of the Forestry Commission, Mr Chris Beeko, who took journalists through the nuances of the VPA in a presentation in Accra on Thursday, noted that illegal logging had caused considerable damage to the forest cover, which ought to be reversed.

He said the primary objective of the VPA was to sustain access to the EU timber market by engaging in legal timber trade, strengthen in-country regulatory systems and move closer to achieve the objective of national forest policy.

Under the VPA, he said, there would be an improved transparency and accountability in the timber sector as timber products imported into the EU market from Ghana would  be lawfully acquired, harvested, transported and exported in compliance with the country?s legal requirements.

Agreements under the VPA

Mr Beeko said there would be a Timber Validation Department at the Forestry Commission to perform the functions of verification and legal standard against which compliance would be measured.

He said a designated timber licensing authority was in the offing to ensure compliance when the agreement finally came into effect.
Reforms in the timber sector

On the way forward, Mr Beeko said the timber validation committee would be  composed of representatives of key stakeholders to give impetus to the new agreement.

He said there would be an improved system of collecting, collating and reconciling transaction data along the entire process chain.

By Sebastian Syme
Writer?s email: [email protected]


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