Gateway to international timbertrade


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 (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.

Legality framework

Forest governance
  • 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.

Legal rights to harvest

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.
Taxes and fees
  • Stock Survey (on reserve) fees: paid to the Forest Services Division in respect of its services provided to loggers to carry out stock surveys.
  • Pre-felling (off – reserve) inspection fees:
  • Salvage award inspection fees
  • Property mark application/renewal fees: Every company/person who wishes to cut or fell any growing timber for export or conversion in a mill shall register a property mark. The applicant shall support with his application evidence of valid income tax, VAT and social security clearance certificates together with social responsibility agreement executed with the inhabitants of the permit area and a non-refundable registration fee of Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢2,000). A registered property mark shall expire after a period of six months commencing from 1st January and is renewable after every six months.
  • Ground rent fees: annual rent, meaning the fee levied or paid per hectare per annum to the owner or landlord for the exercise of timber rights on his piece of land as specified in the contract
  • SRA fees (5% of stumpage) paid to forest fringe communities for provision of social facilities and amenities.
  • One-off Timber Rights Fees (TRF),
  • Stumpage fees,  the amount of tax imposed on the value the standing tree
  • Export levies (on specified timber species)
  • Annual license renewal fees
  • Corporate income tax
Timber harvesting activities

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.

Third parties' rights

The Social Responsbility Agreement (SRA) forms an integral part of the timber rights access process under the Timber Utilization Contract (TUC). The SRA is an agreement between a TUC holder and the landowning communities (forest fringe communities) which spells out the social obligations of the contractor to the landowning communities to a value of 5% stumpage paid on timber harvested. It ensures that the TUC holder respects the rights, social and cultural values of landowning communities during its operations.

SRA ensures the following:

  • TUC holder operates in a socially responsible manner;
  • TUC holder respect existing rights of the communities for access to certain forest products;
  • TUC holder respect the social and cultural values of the communities in which they operate;
  • Communities benefit from timber exploitation;
  • Communities are consulted in the management and exploitation of timber resources;
  • Communities specify the conditions under which the TUC holder operates;
  • Communities benefit directly from the exploitation of timber resources from their land for community development initiatives and programmes.

Free prior and informed (FPIC) provisions under the TUC process are the following:

  • Identification of TUC Area: This is done by the FC in consultation with the District Chief Executive (DCE) of the district(s) concerned. An inventory report is compiled and recommendations made for the grant of timber rights in the area.
  • Field Inspection: If the area is considered viable for the grant of timber rights, a field inspection is undertaken. A field inspection team is constituted by the FC in consultation with the DCE of the area. The field inspection team must consist of the following: two (2) district assembly members; a representative from the traditional council; a district forestry officer; land owners or their representatives and  at least one farmer.
  • Notification of the People of the area nominated: 21 days notice is put at the district assembly, the traditional council and the unit committees of the land area to be considered for the grant of timber rights. If issues of conflict arise within the 21 days, a committee is put in place to study and address the issues raised.
  • Written Consent: If no issues come up within the 21days or issues that come up within the 21 days are resolved, a written consent is obtained from the land owners, individuals or groups whose lands are affected.
  • Compensation Negotiation & Payment: The potential TUC holder is required to identify, engage and negotiate with farmers whose lands will be affected by the timber logging operations on compensation. Compensations must be negotiated, agreed and paid by the bidder.

SRA negotiation: The highest TUC bidder is required to conclude SRA negotiations and sign SRAs with the communities to be affected. This SRA process must be in line with the laid down procedure and represent a value of 5% of total stumpage fee of the timber to be harvested.

Grant of timber rights: The grant of timber rights is only given to the highest bidder after proof of having complied with all the conditions including compensation and SRA.

SRA Fulfilment: Communities are required to demand the fulfilment of the SRA as agreed and signed. Failure of the logger to comply with the SRA amounts to an infraction and should result in the nullification of the grant of timber rights (TUC). Communities can also request for a re-negotiation of the SRA if irregularities are identified (e.g. if it comes to the notice of communities that the package agreed earlier is less than 5% of the stumpage fees).

Community Access to Non Forest Timber Products & timber off-cuts: Communities  have the right to access the area for NTFPs and off-cuts.

Monitoring of Logging Operations: Communities have the responsibility to monitor timber logging operations and ensure the timber company is not engaged in any irregularities and illegalities. Communities are encouraged to report such actions through the complaints mechanism of the FC or seek redress through the courts.

Trade and transport

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.


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.
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.
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.

Processing and trade

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.
The sales invoice will be prepared by the selling party.
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 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). 
  • Rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceous)

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.


Forestry Commission of Ghana
Timber Validation Department (TVD)
Mr Chris Beeko
Director, Timber Validation Department
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
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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