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Ghana Timber Organisation Gives Prescription To Save Industry   
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The Ghana Timber Millers Organisation (GTMO) has recommended a number of strategies which it believes need to be adopted to save the dying timber industry in the country.

The organisation, which is a grouping of operators in the timber industry, said it was regrettable that the timber industry, which had for more than a century contributed significantly to the socio-economic development of the nation, was now on the verge of collapse.

“The main reasons for the decline in performance are that the cost of production out-stripes the total revenue on current type of products. However, there is the potential to increase revenue and employment if there could be more investments in plantation timber production and value added timber processing,” the GTMO said.

According to the GTMO, the industry could only be saved from its collapsing trend through well calculated measures.

In its 2014 Report on the performance of the industry, the GTMO outlined strategies that could be implemented to improve the various sectors of the industry such as production, harvesting, management of stumpage revenue, relief for timber companies, and the development of the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Forest Services Division (FSD).

Among other things, the organisation noted that Instead of the “current do nothing approach of natural forest management,” the FC through the FSD need to apply well tested and most appropriate natural forest management techniques that would allow for retention of adequate and superior seed trees to ensure more regeneration; adopt liberation thinning, and enrichment planting techniques to increase growth of residual trees of high value species.

It expressed optimism that on-farm timber production could increase by 10 times if the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources could review the distribution of timber revenue from on-farm trees to ensure that the farmer who nurtured the tree gets adequately remunerated for their toils.

“We believe such a review will encourage farmers to increase retention of naturally occurring trees, give them the maximum protection that is required to increase the survival rate of on-farm trees. This will curtail the estimated annual loss of nearly 15 million cubic meters of wood that are felled and burnt away by farmers,” it said.

It said if that could be done across the six million hectares of farm lands in the high forest zone and the woodland savannah, it would constitute a very reliable source of timber.

Also, the organisation called for the development of effective plantation programme, indicating that the climate and soils conditions of Ghana can support a forest plantation production of 30-60 million cubic meters a year to provide a round wood value of 21 billion dollars per annum.

“This provides the evidence that the future survival, expansion and development of the timber industry hinges on our ability to embark on large scale industrial forest plantations.”

“In this respect the Ministry and FC should implement a well-planned and coordinated state and private large scale forest plantation programme in all the eco-zones suitable for fast growth of timber trees,” it said.

It explained that, for instance at an annual planting target of 100,000 hectares on a 20 year rotation, Ghana can increase the resource base by two million hectares and obtain an annual harvestable volume of 30-60 million cubic meters which will be between 25 to 50 times the production from natural forests.

It appealed for the direct involvement of timber operators to ensure the success of such a programme, and gave assurance of the GTMO’s support in that regard.

Touching on reliefs, the GTMO called for a downward review of stumpage, which it believed continue to add to the high cost of production which has led to the closure of many timber companies.

Currently, it said there was over dependence of the FC on timber revenue to the detriment of the investments in the resource improvement.

It believed that only the direct cost of timber or TUC management should be charged to the stumpage revenue.
Source: Ghanaian Times

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