Gateway to international timbertrade

Ghana

Forest resources

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 (2015) the Ghanaian industry produced in 2014 about 2.1 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 367.1 million US dollars in 2014. 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.

Legality framework

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.

Key documents

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.

Harvesting

Certificate to commence business
Registrar of Companies
Proof of registration as commercial business in Ghana.
Tax clearance certificate
Ghana Revenue Authority
This certificate is the proof of payment of all taxes and fees.
Forest Service Division (FSD), Forestry Commission
A felling permit demonstrates that the holder of the permit received permission of the holder of the forest resource, holds a valid Timber Utilisation Contract or Salvage permit issued by the relevant authorities, and that the logger complied with forestry operation procedures and standards. Attached example is the format for off-reserve harvesting.
Forest Service Division (FSD), Forestry Commission
The holder of valid property mark (Form C) signifies a duly recognised logger in good standing with the Forestry Commission. A holder of a valid felling permit without a valid property mark (Form C) cannot harvest and convey logs. The property mark is used on e.g. the LMCC.
Log measurement and conveyance certificate (LMCC)
Forestry Commission
A LMCC is issued for conveyance of logs from the log yard (in the forest) 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.
Invoice
The waybill will be prepared by the selling party, and needs to include i.a. the company’s property mark, the origin and destination of the load, and the details of the product.
Waybill
The waybill will be prepared by the selling party, and needs to include i.a. the company’s property mark, the origin and destination of the load, and the details of the product.

Trade and export

Certificate to commence business
Registrar of Companies
Proof of registration as commercial business in Ghana
Tax clearance certificate
Ghana Revenue Authority
This certificate is the proof of payment of all taxes and fees.
Invoice
The sales invoice will be prepared by the selling party.
Waybill
The waybill will be prepared by the selling party, and needs to include i.a. the company’s property mark when directly sourced from the forest, the origin and destination of the load, and the details of the product.
Exporters Registration Certificate
TIDD, Forestry commission
All exporters of timber and wood products are required to officially register with TIDD. The certificate expires on December 31st every year and is renewable upon re-application.
Export contract
The export contract will be prepared by the selling party, but the TIDD of the Forestry Commission needs to approve export sales contracts

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 spieces

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.

Contacts

Forestry Commission of Ghana
Timber Validation Department (TVD)
Mr Chris Beeko
Director, Timber Validation Department
Ghana
Tel: +233 302 401227
The TVD of the Forestry Commission of Ghana is responsible for verifying the legal origins of timber products harvested in Ghana for export to the European Union and other consumer markets.
Forestry Commission of Ghana
Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD)
P. O. Box 783
Takoradi, Ghana
Tel: +233 28 912 0033
The TIDD is the designated licensing authority under the VPA.
Forestry Commission of Ghana
Forest Service Division (FSD)
P. O. Box GP 257
Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 302 401210
Tel: +233 302 401227
Tel: +233 302 401216
Fax: +233 302 401215
The Forestry Commission of Ghana is responsible for the regulation of utilization of forest and wildlife resources, the conservation and management of those resources and the coordination of policies related to them.
Forestry Commission of Ghana
Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC)
The Director
P. O. Box 1457
Kumasi, Ghana
Tel: +233 3220 28525
Development and monitoring of standards for forest and wildlife management
Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA)
P. O. Box 150
Tema, Ghana
Tel: +233 (0) 303 202631-39
Fax: +233 (0) 303 202812
The GPHA manages ports operations for shipment of wood consignment at Tema and Takoradi ports, and regulates the operations of the Shipping Companies / Freight forwarders to conform with VPA requirements on timber exports and imports.
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
P. O. Box UP 63 KNUST
Kumasi, Ghana
Tel: +233-(0)3220-60123/60373
Fax: +233-(0)3220-60121
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana is dedicated to conduct forest and forest products research for social, economic and environmental benefits of society.
Registrar of Companies
Registrar General’s Department
P.O.Box 118
Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 302 664691-93
Fax: +233 302 662043
The Registrar of Companies in Ghana at the Registrar General’s Department can be contacted for verification of the legitimacy of a company in Ghana.
Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority
Off Starlets' 91 Road,
near Accra Sports Stadium
Postal:
P. O. Box 2202
Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 302 675701-10
Fax: +233 302 681163
The Customs Division of the GRA i.a. conducts timber products examinations for exported and imported timber using the agreed HS Codes under the VPA, and prepares export clearance (CEPS Release) for exported timber.
Ghana Timber Association
P O Box 246
Takoradi, Ghana
Tel: +233 (0)32 2025153
Ghana Timber Millers Organisation
P.O. Box KS 4991
Kumasi, Ghana
Tel: +233 (0)32 2029750
Furniture & wood products association
PO Box 32
Trade Fair Centre
Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 21 21778513

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