The Northern Sector Timber Association (NSTA) has called for the passage of relevant legislative instruments to curb the exploitation of Ghana’s timber forests and reserves.

Speaking at a stakeholders workshop in Techiman under the auspices of the European Union, DANIDA and USAID sponsored by the BUSAC Fund Phase III., a council member of the association, Mr Kwasi Agyeman said the lack of ad-equate regulations governing the sector has led to the blatant destruction of Ghana’s forests.

He stated that although there is a law regulating the activities of chainsaw operators, these operators are still harvesting timber for sale thanks to col-lusion with some forest guards.

He also added that as a result of the corruption in the sector, the rules governing the awarding of timber utilization contracts have been largely ig-nored to the detriment of small scale merchants and planters operating from off-reserve areas within the country.

“As a result of these corrupt practices, the exploitation of forest resources is resulting in negative development outcomes.

What we need to do is to improve the institutional framework of the state, legalize the operations of chainsaw operators and increase the participation of civil society in forest monitoring processes in order to control corruption and illegal logging in Ghana,” he added.

Council member of NSTA Mr. Isaac Narh, explained that the failure of the Forestry Commission, acting through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Re-source and Parliament to develop the required Legislative Instrument to fa-cilitate the proper and sustainable harvesting of timber resources and iden-tify loopholes in Ghana’s forestry laws is being exploited to the detriment of farm owners and small-scale private timber concession owners.

“Not only does the current regime shut the door on local timber planters in the full and effective participation in European Union’s VPA, but also en-courages the dissipation of farmlands and threatens the sustainability of off-reserve timber resource areas.

This serves as a great disincentive to local communities and constitutes a major impediment to the growth and devel-opment of legal small-scaled timber merchants in Ghana,” he added.

Mr. Narh explained further that, events surrounding the handling of seized illegally lumbered rose wood from northern Ghana is further demonstration of the entrenched parochial interests of some state actors who may be col-laborating with merchants in the timber exploitation sector to destroy Gha-na’s previously rich forest cover.

The NSTA made a passionate appeal to beauty bearers in the timber trade such as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Forestry Commis-sion and the Ministry of Trade together with Parliament to increase their synergies and work in concert to put together the required regulations that will ensure fairness, equity and sustainable utilization of timber, especially within off-reserve areas in the country.

The NSTA was established in 2012 to represent the body of individuals and groups who plant various species of timber as part of afforestation efforts for both the domestic and international market.

The goal of the association is to promote afforestation as a means of liveli-hood by planting trees of commercial value in areas that are either under the scourge of desertification or severe deforestation.

Source: Elorm Ntumy

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