According to the FAO (2015) Ghana has around 9.3 million hectares of forested land, which constitutes to 41.0% of the total land area. Around 9.0 million hectares are primary or otherwise naturally regenerated forest, and around 325 thousand hectares are planted forest. The Ghanaian forests broadly fall into two vegetation zones, each with different vegetation and forest types: the High Forest Zone in the South covering 34% and the Savannah Zone in the North covering 66% of the land area (MLNR, 2012). Ghana has approximately 2.6 million hectares of forest reserve land, of which 1.6 million hectares falls within the so-called High Forest Zone. Of these reserves 715,000 hectares have been dedicated for natural timber production, with the remainder under protection and plantation development. Apart from these reserves approximately 500 thousand hectares of unreserved forests as well as a further 2 million hectares of crop land also produce timber (Ghana – EU, 2012).
The ownership of the Ghanaian forest area can be divided among public land, stool land, family land and private land. However, the management of all forest resources including timber harvesting rights are administered by the Forestry Commission for benefit of the land owners. The management responsibilities of the Forestry Commission in relation to off-reserve forest resources are more limited as in relation to on-reserve areas. In off-reserve areas the Forestry commission is responsible for regulating, as opposed to managing, the utilization of forest and timber resources (ClientEarth, 2013a).
Production and export
According to ITTO (2017) the Ghanaian industry produced in 2015 about 2.6 million m3 of roundwood, and the majority of this volume is used within the country since only the export of teak logs is permitted. The exports of primary timber products accounted for a total export value of 230.2 million US dollars in 2015.
Although Ghana produces quite a number of tree species, the 10 most important Ghanaian timber species, in terms of exported value in 2014, are (TIDD, Forestry Commission):
- Teak (Tectona grandis)
- Ceiba, Fromager (Ceiba pentandra)
- Abachi, Wawa (Triplochiton scleroxylon)
- African mahogany (Khaya spp.)
- Rosewood, Kpatro (Pterocarpus erinaceus)
- Afzelia, Papao, Doussie (Afzelia spp.)
- Gmelina (Gmelina arborea)
- Aniegre, Asanfina (Aningeria spp.)
- Limba, Ofram (Terminalia superba)
- Sapele, Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
The Ghanaian exports are sold to all regions of the world. Besides overland export routes to other African countries, most timber is exported via the main ports (GHPA, 2015) in the south: Port of Tema and Port of Takoradi. These ports have good connections to the hinterland by road.
For the development of the export industry the country aims to make more efficient use of the wood and to produce more high-end products such as shaped and machined mouldings, flooring, furniture components, dowels and similar added value items. As can be observed from the graph below the exports of primary and secondary products account for 97% to the export of wood products, while more high-end (tertiary) products account only for 3,5% of these exports.
Sources of information
- ClientEarth (2013) Ownership and use rights of Forest Natural Resources.
- FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.
- FC Ghana London (2015) London Office of Ghana Forestry Commission.
- Fordaq - timber trade network
- Ghana – EU (2012) Ghana and the European Union - Annual Report 2012 Implementing the Ghana-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement.
- GPHA (2017) Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority
- ITC (International Trade Centre) calculations based on UN Comtrade statistics
- ITTO (2015) Biennial review and assessment of the world timber situation 2013-2014.
- LoggingOff, A civil society counter-brief on the Republic of Ghana-EU VPA.
- Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), Ghana Investment Plan for the Forest, 2012.
- TIDD, Forestry Commission. Report on export of wood products, December 2014.
- World Port Source - Map of ports in Ghana with container liner service.
- The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource (MLNR) has over-all responsibility for sector planning and policy direction for monitoring and evaluation of development policies and programs.
- The Forestry Commission (FC) has overall responsibility for forests and wildlife management in Ghana. Its core responsibility is to provide services that guarantee the sustainable development and management of forests and wildlife, and optimize their contribution to national socio-economic development.
- The Forest Services Division (FSD) is responsible for forest management throughout Ghana. It has the task of enforcing forest laws and regulation, and to make sure that stakeholders such as local communities and timber companies obey rules and regulations.
- The Timber Validation Department is responsible for verification and validation of application for timber products licenses
- The Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) provides technical services for the growth of the timber industry. The services include development of skills, grades, standards, and the provision of marketing information for industry. TIDD issues licenses to cover timber products to be traded
- Support Services The Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) is responsible for the exploration, development, facilitation, institutionalisation, and implementation and monitoring of effective and affordable forest and wildlife management systems in the country in accordance with the national forest and wildlife policy.
The key regulation regarding forest governance is Timber Resource Management and Legality Licensing Regulations, 2017 (LI 2254). This law regulates the grant of timber rights and related matters. It encompasses (a) the identification of land suitable for the grant of timber rights, (b) the terms and conditions for small and large scale timber rights, (c) other sources of timber, and (d) the legality licensing scheme.
No person shall harvest timber in Ghana unless that person holds timber rights.
- a Timber Utilization Contract (TUC), which is a written contract signed by the Minister and ratified by the Parliament granting a timber harvesting right, except in the case of land with private forest plantations or lands with timber grown or owned by an individual or group.
- Salvage Permit (SP), which is an administrative permit signed by the Forestry Commission to salvage trees from an area undergoing development. To be considered legal, the permit needs to be covered by the application and an inspection report from Forest Service Division.
- Timber Utilisation Permit (TUP), which is a small scale permit to harvest a defined number of trees for social or community purposes signed by the Forestry Commission. Timber from these permits cannot be sold or exported.
Before timber rights are issued, a written consent should come from the land owners. This is because the felling may affect their farms or planted trees. Harvesting of timber without a permit is not allowed by law. The FSD prepares a harvesting schedule for areas to be logged and conducts pre-felling inspections and stock surveys resulting in availability of stocking data, including stock maps, yield list and yield maps.
In the management of the TUC areas, the first step corresponds to the development of the TUC (Area) operation plan, by the contractor (or planting plans in case of forest plantations). This plan provides the major details of the operations are given which will be carried out in the coming years. Operational plans for the Timber Utilisation Contract (TUC) areas are prepared by the contracting companies which outlines timber harvesting standards and specifications for operations such as road and bridge construction, felling, skidding and log markings and approved by the Forest Service Division.
Allocation of yield is based on a formula that takes into consideration the felling limit of trees, forest condition score and the FC’s fine-grained environmental protection standards.
Every logging company should apply for a property mark, which can be obtained from the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission. The property mark needs renewal every 6 months, and it will be mentioned on e.g. the LMCC and waybill.
Based on the operational plans the contractor develops (compartment) logging plans and should apply for a felling permit. A pre-felling inspection by the District Forest Officer should ensure that all trees are inspected and due payments have been paid, after which a felling permit can be issued.
Soon after tree felling a Tree Information Form (TIF) should be completed by the field staff ensuring that species, tree reference number, tree length and the four diameter measurement are entered. Additionally, the contractor should complete a Log Information Form (LIF), which ensures that all logs after cross-cutting are numbered and which provides the link between the tree information on the TIF and the Log measurement and conveyance certificate (LMCC). In case of forest plantations the TIF and LIF are replaced by the Plantation Production Certificate (PPC). A LMCC is issued for conveyance of logs from the log yard to its final destination on a vehicle basis. The LMCC is stamped by the District Forestry Office and signed by the Forestry official before the logs leave the forest.
All prospective buyers of timber and wood products are required to officially register with TIDD for processing and issuance of Buyers Registration Certificate. The certificate is valid for one calendar year and it is renewable upon re-application.
The below listed key documents are based on the applicable legislation and are considered to play a key role in demonstrating legal origin. The full list of applicable legislation is accessible here.
Processing and Trade
Bans and quota
All logs with the exception of teak are not permitted for export (VPA, 2009). Since January 1, 2014 the harvest and export of Rosewood timber (Pterocarpus erinaceus) from Ghana has been prohibited due to unchecked and indiscriminate harvesting. Current export ban has been partially lifted for a few exporting companies (Forest Trends, 2014).
Cites and protected species
CITES species must be covered by a special export permit issued by the Timber Industry Development Division of the Ghanaian Forestry Commission. CITES regulations are integrated in the forest management framework in Ghana. The following tree species can be found in Ghanaian forests which are covered by CITES Appendix II:
- Afrormosia (Pericopsis elata). This CITES listing applies to logs, sawn wood and veneer sheets.
Species for which harvesting has been restricted by the Ghanaian government (L.I. 1649):
- Tiama, Edinam (Entandrophragma anglolense)
- Sapeli, Sapelewood (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
- Sipo, Utile (Entandrophragma utile)
- Kosipo, Penkwa-akoa (Entandrophragma candollei)
- African mahogany, Krumben (Khaya anthotheca / Khaya grandifolia)
- African mahogany, Dubine (Khaya ivorensis)
- Iroko, Odum (Milicia excelsa, Milicia regia)
- Bilinga, Kusia (Nauclea diderichii)
- Afrormosia, Kokrodua (Pericopsis elata)
- Makore, Baku (Tieghemella heckelii)
- Ovangkol, Hyedua (Guibourtia ehie)
National action on timber legality
With signing the VPA between Ghana and EU in November 2009, Ghana became the first country that signed a VPA with the European Union. Ghana is ready for the final assessment of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) that will ensure that timber and timber products exported to the European Union (EU) come from legal sources. The implementation of the final assessment (the date yet to be made public) will enable Ghana to begin the issuance of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licence.
Ghana has enacted a Timber Resources Management and Legality Licensing Regulation of 2017, LI 2254 in which changes to Ghana’s legal framework were made to meet the terms of the VPA.The new law clarifies the granting of special permits and included award of timber access rights for small scale harvesting. Already Ghana has established a Legality Assurance System (LAS) to monitor, control and verify management and use of Ghana’s forest resources to ensure that only legal products are produced, sold and exported from Ghana. The LAS applies to all sources of commercial timber and products produced, processed and/or acquired in Ghana including those for non-EU markets, as well as all timber sold on the domestic market. As a major component of the LAS, the Wood Tracking System incorporates a traceability control system which monitors timber, starting in the forest and continuing through the entire production chain.
The Timber Validation Department has been established within the Forestry Commission to perform the function of verification against the legal standard for every consignment. The Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission is designated as the national licensing authority under the VPA. They will issue FLEGT licenses for the export of timber products to the EU market and export permits for non-EU markets. The EU border control authorities will permit import only if shipments are covered by such a license.
Third party certification
Two companies have a valid FSC-certificate, covering 12,147 hectares of forest plantations. (FSC, august 2018). Several other companies hold an FSC Controlled wood certificate which covers together an area exceeding 250,000 hectares.
Early 2018, the National Working Group Ghana, with the support of UK DFID, completed a study titled ‘Migrating from FLEGT VPA to PEFC Certification in Ghana: an overview of PEFC and FLEGT VPA synergy’. With the National Working Group Ghana’s completion of the national forest certification system in late 2017 and the submission of the national system to PEFC International in May 2018 for assessment, Ghana’s national certification system is expected to have international recognition through PEFC in early 2019.
Sources of information
- BVRio (2017) Practical guide to conducting due diligence of tropical timber products: Ghana
- CITES database
- ClientEarth, Understanding the legality of rights, permits and certificates to harvest naturally occurring timber in Ghana, 2013.
- Forest Trends, Situation of global rosewood production & trade – Ghana rosewood case study, 2014.
- FSC report “Facts & Figures” – January 2019.
- Ghana – EU (2009) Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the European community and the Republic of Ghana on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade in timber products into the community.
- Ghana ready to implement legal timber agreement - Forestry Commission, December 2, 2018
- ITTO and KWC, Wood Tracking Manual of Procedure for Small-Medium Enterprises. 2011.
- NEPCon (2018) Ghana Timber Risk Profile
- PEFC International
- Rosewood harvesting in Ghana and way forward, Forestry Commission May 4, 2017
- The Forestry commission of Ghana.
- Timber Resources Management and Legality Licensing Regulation of 2017, LI 2254
- TVD FLEGT verification protocols, 2015.
Tel: +233 302 401227
Tel: +233 302 401216
near Accra Sports Stadium
P. O. Box 2202
Trade Fair Centre
Source: Transparancy International