EU provides support for phase II of "Chainsaw Milling Project" (28/10/2011)

The European Union has provided funds for the implementation of the second phase of the "EU Chainsaw Milling Project" entitled "Supporting the integration of legal and legitimate domestic timber markets into Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA)".  The programme was launched in Accra, October 27, 2011 at the 6th National Multi-stakeholder Dialogue meeting which brought together major stakeholders in the timber and forestry industry to discuss challenges facing Ghana’s forestry sector especially regarding the supply of legal timber to the domestic market. 

The four-year project is being funded by an EU grant of about EUR 2.0 million and being implemented by TROPENBOS International Ghana, supported by the Forestry Commission and the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana.  The programme consists of four result areas, three targeting the national level and one the international dialogue and sharing of experiences.

It is a follow up to the EU’s support to the forestry sector in 2007, when TROPENBOS International was contracted to implement a 5-year grant action totaling EUR 2.2 million entitled “Developing alternatives for illegal chainsaw lumbering through multi-stakeholder dialogue”.  The "EU Chainsaw Milling Project" as it is usually referred to, aims to find sustainable solutions to the problems associated with the production of lumber for the local timber market in Ghana. It was targeted at stakeholders in chainsaw lumbering.

The current programme will provide and broaden the necessary platforms for stakeholders to discuss domestic timber market issues and support the implementation, by stakeholder, of the outcomes of the dialogue in policy and in practice.

A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Henry Ford Kamal, launched the programme and called for participatory and not only a consultative approach to bringing all stakeholders on board to discuss options and evolve mechanisms that address the social political and economic and ecological dimensions of the issue of problem of illegal chainsaw lumbering.

He stressed the Ministry’s support and commitment to the implementation of the project as one of the pragmatic ways of dealing with the illegal chainsaw menace in the country and as a process that will eventually ensure the supply of legal timber on the domestic market.

The Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Ghana, Mr. Kurt Cornelis, said the intervention under the phase II of the project were in line with the EU policy and thinking.  He said recent analysis by the European Forest Institute has given strong indications that the implementation of the Ghana VPA has the potential to have a positive impact on poverty alleviation.  To achieve this positive impact on poverty alleviation requires sustained effort of all stakeholders in promoting viable livelihoods in poor forest-dependent communities.

He noted that the EU was also keen to support the on-going process of ensuring adequate supply of legal timber on the domestic market in conformity with the sustainable production capacity of the forest resources and the socio-economic development of forest-dependent communities.  Mr. Cornelis added that the EU was very much aware of the potential impacts in Ghana of VPA implementation and to this end would confirm its dedication to follow up on recommendations made by the various studies to ensure the negative impacts of VPA on Ghanaians are minimized.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission Mr. Afari Dartey in contribution said the continuous decline in forest resources and the inability to replenish the forest over the years is the main problem facing Ghana resulting in illegal lumbering and chainsaw operations. He called on stakeholders to close the gap between demand and supply by flooding the market with wood resources through plantation development to be governed by a plantation policy, whiles schemes should be developed to shift hands from forest resources for livelihood to other economic activities to address the socio-cultural aspect of the problem.

There was a presentation on the programme details by the Director of Tropenbos International Ghana, Mr. S. K Nketia and Mr. James Parker, another official.