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The Ghana-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement aimed at ensuring that Ghana produces and exports only legal timber and timber products by improving forest governance and law enforcement.
The team first paid a courtesy call on the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah in Kumasi, on Monday 21 January, 2019, to officially inform his about the field trip and also his support for a smooth trip.
Mr. Osei Mensah officailly welcome the Ambassador to the Region and praised the efforts of the EU and the team accompanying the Ambassador for the work done region's vast forest reserves and pledged the support of the Regional Coordinating Council in the Region to streamline legal timber production. He said the Regional Council was embarking on a "clean and green city" project aimed at reversing the city to its historical status as the garden city of West Africa, calling for support, technical and human resources to achieve their aim.
Mrs. Acconcia on her part said efforts were underway to ensure that Ghana becomes the first AFrican Country and the second in the world to receive a licence and certification from the European Union to export timber products to its member states under the Ghana-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). This follows the successful assessment of the country's forest governance structure, laws and active participatiion of the local communities and civil society organisations under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governanve and Trade (FLEGT) programme.
She urged Ghanaian to participate in the green economy initiative which will open the way for Ghanaian youth to have access to employment in the forest sector.
The team in the company of the media also visited the Kunsimoa Bepo Shelterbelt forest reserve in New Edubiase Forest District of Ashanti Region on Monday. The team watched a demonstration of electronic Wood Tracking System (WTS) and how the hand-held devices are used to map the forest resources in each reserve.
Forest officials also illustrated markings on tree stump that document location species and timber contractors for the felled trees under. Forestry Commission inspectors explained how log measurement and conveyance certificate are issued for timber to be transported from the forest to the mill. The Minister and Ambassdor Acconcia, later briefed the media on their impressions.
They team were ealier briefed on the Ghana’s Legality Assurance System (GhLAS) by Mr. Chris Beeko, the Director of the Timber Validation Department and Alex Asare, the Director of the Forestry Commission’s Resource Management Support Centre in Kumasi.
The team again had the opportunity to interact with Breku and Bonkro, adjacent communities in the New Edubiase region, who have benefited from the EU-funded capacity building support projects under EU FLEGT/VPA. The beneficiaries in the two communities described the support they enjoyed and the impact of the training on their environment and livelihoods.
On Tuesday, 22 January, 2019, the combined team from the EU Delegation in Ghana, Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources representatives visited Adras Company, a Kumasi based small scale timber company to gain insight into their operations and to an appreciation of the challenges and opportunities presented by FLEGT licensing for small-scale operators. Adras Company produces lumber and exports 85% of its products mainly to Europe.
The team proceeded to tour the sawmills of the Logs and Lumber Ltd company to observe first-hand, the process for documenting logs and tracking timber through the mill, focussing using the appropriate timber regulations. The company, a bigger one compared to Adras, employs about 1082 peoople and has its own plantation, started a reafforestation programme and a nursery to produce seedlings for afforestaton.
The company is ready for the FLEGT certification according to its management stating that buyers are anxious about when the VPA and FLEGT licenced timebr will be available on the market in spite of the awareness created over the past 10 years.
A joint press release issued to the media by the team after the tour on Wednesday 23 January 2019, said Ghana is poised to become the first country in Africa and second in the world to issue timber legality licence.
Ghana entered into the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) in November 2009 as a response to the changing international markets for timber. Since signing the agreement, Ghana has been developing the systems required to deliver timber legality licenses also referred to under the agreement as Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Licences, FLEGT Licenses for short.
Find attached the Press Statement Issued after the field trip.