Ghana is set to become the first country in the world to issue the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses, under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU).
The VPAs with the EU helps to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber products.
The FLEGT licenses may only be issued to timber traceable to legal forest operations in line with the Legality Assurance System (LAS) developed through a participatory process involving civil society, public and private sector.
The LAS combines field audits against a legality standard with an innovative wood tracking system capable of identifying the precise forest harvesting area of all timber exported from Ghana.
Ms Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, announced this at the closing session of the seventh Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanisms meeting between the representatives of Ghana and the EU.
She said the progress so far made underscored Ghana’s commitment in meeting the provisions of the VPAs, as well as the national forest and wildlife policy.
“We see the development and implementation of this framework as a means to enhance understanding of the changes in livelihoods, markets and forest governance resulting from the implementation of the FLEGT VPA,” she said.
Ghana and the EU signed the VPA in November 2009 to address the problem of illegal logging and trade in associated timber products. She said the initial roll-out showed that the system was fit for the purpose.
“Pilot operation of the LAS is already demonstrating that it provides a powerful mechanism to improve the transparency and efficiency of forest operations and regulation in Ghana,” Ms Asamoah said.
She commended the high level of civil society engagement in the implementation process.
Mr Claude Maerten, Head of EU Delegation, said by implementing the LAS Ghana is demonstrating global leadership not only in the application of wood tracking technology, but in the field of forest governance.
He encouraged Ghana to take final steps towards full operation of the system and issue of VPA licenses to enable the country to fully exploit new market opportunities for legally licensed timber in importing countries.
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