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Ghana advances towards FLEGT licensing

Ghana is making good progress in implementing its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU ahead of FLEGT licensing, according to the joint body that oversees implementation of the agreement.

The Ghana-EU Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM) met on 17 November to discuss the rollout of Ghana’s wood tracking system, improved governance and outstanding issues to be addressed before FLEGT licensing can begin.

When issued, the FLEGT licence will enable Ghana’s timber products to enter the EU market without importers having to do further due diligence to meet their obligations under the EU Timber Regulation.

Ghana has now rolled its wood tracking system out to 17 districts, accounting for 45% of timber production, and expects to complete the rollout by the end February 2017.

In addition to these advances, Ghana is also addressing illegal logging in its domestic market, as well as regional trade. It is rolling out a new system for tracking timber on the domestic market that involves both suppliers and traders, and requires proof of legality through the chain of custody.

Ghana has drafted new legislation which aims to improve forest governance and help Ghana meet the terms of the VPA by enhancing transparency, generating benefits for communities and clarifying the allocation of all timber rights.

The  legislation includes requirements for ‘special permits’ to be converted to ‘timber utilisation contracts’, and for all holders of commercial logging permits to negotiate social responsibility agreements with adjacent communities.

“This instrument has strong civil society and private sector involvement and support,” said Musah Abu-Juam, Technical Director of Ghana Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources. “It strengthens the Legality Definition which underpins the Agreement.”

The draft ‘timber resources management and legality licensing regulation’ will be submitted to parliament for enactment early in 2017.

The parties to the VPA anticipate that they will soon be ready to launch their final joint assessment of Ghana’s timber legality assurance system, to confirm it is operating as described in the VPA ahead of FLEGT licensing.

“These major achievements show that Ghana continues to strengthen forest governance through the VPA and is advancing toward FLEGT licensing,” said Benoist Bazin, Team Leader for Infrastructure and Development at the Delegation of the European Union to Ghana.

“Good governance of Ghana’s forests is crucial to sustainable development. Moreover, it helps both Ghana and the EU contribute to achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals, mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.”

Sources: JMRM press releaseJMRM aide-memoire

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