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. 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.
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.
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 (2015) 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.
No person shall harvest timber in Ghana unless that person holds timber rights in the form of 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.
In addition to TUCs, there are two other ways in which timber harvesting rights are documented:
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.
In the management of the TUC areas, the first step corresponds to the development of the TUC operation plan by the contractor (in case of forest plantations planting plans). 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 and approved by the Forest Service Division.
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 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. Until today Ghana is still in the implementation phase and therefore timber is not supplied with a FLEGT license yet.
Ghana has already 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.
A 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
Until recently there was only one active third party forest certification scheme in Ghana, which is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) covering 3367 hectares of forest plantations. However, several other companies hold a FSC Controlled wood certificate which covers together an area exceeding 200,000 hectares.
In the beginning of 2016 Rainforest Alliance issued a VLC certificate in Ghana, which covers over 100 hectares. Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) ensures that the administrative requirements of permitting, planning, taxes or fees, and harvesting, as well as a broad range of applicable and relevant laws and regulations related to forestry, have been met.
Sources of information
- CITES database
- ClientEarth, Understanding the legality of rights, permits and certificates to harvest naturally occurring timber in Ghana, 2013.
- ITTO and KWC, Wood Tracking Manual of Procedure for Small-Medium Enterprises. 2011.
- The Forestry commission of Ghana.
- Forest Trends, Situation of global rosewood production & trade – Ghana rosewood case study, 2014.
- FSC report “Facts & Figures” – January 2016.
- L.I. 1649 Timber Resources Management Regulations. 1998
- 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.
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Source: Transparancy International