September 19, 2020

Authorize conversion of leases and permits to Timber Utilization Contracts – Group to Government

Some Civil Society organizations are calling on the Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Parliament of Ghana to urgently ratify the conversion of extant leases and permits to Timber Utilization Contracts to allow for the issuance of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, FLEGT.

The FLEGT license will allow Ghana’s timber to be legally exported for sale.

According to the groups, this has been on government’s table since 1998.

Addressing the press, campaigner with EcoCare Ghana, Obed Owusu-Addai, said the successful issuance of FLEGT license will rescue the ailing timber industry.

“One key final step that has stalled the FLEGT-VPA process in recent months is the conversion of extant leases and permits into valid timber utilization contracts which includes ratification by Parliament.  We note that, it has taken over a decade to reach where we are in the VPA process. As partners in the process, civil society is very proud of the milestones Ghana has achieved collectively. We are also very committed to support the Government of Ghana to complete the process in accordance with Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources’ timelines of issuing a FLET license before or by the end of 2020,” he said.

The group says it is ready to petition the European Union if the process to issue FLEGT license is not completed by the end of 2020.

In 2009, Ghana and the European Union signed a voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which is to allow Ghana export only legally approved Timber to European countries.

For this to work, timber business operators must be provided the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) license.

In this regard, stakeholders in this field have presented to the Forestry Commission, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources the framework to be forwarded to parliament for ratification.

Currently timber operators in Ghana export timber using the Extant leases and permits which according to the European Union is illegal. According to the Civil Society groups, only 4% of all existing Timber contracts meet the VPA criteria for valid timber right.

Source: Business