President of the national Small Scale Timber Millers Association, Rev. Togbega Fugah, has admonished woodworkers and millers in the country to make sustainability of the forests a major concern by embracing efforts of successive government to put in place mechanisms that protect the country’s vegetation cover.
He observed that the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Ghana and the EU among others forms part of the strategic mechanisms to ensure protection of the country’s forests while also ensuring that there is wood in the system for those in the wood industry to continue with their work.
Rev. Fugah in an interview with B&FT advised that any person or group of persons who have identified any challenge with any clause or clauses of the VPA, which may cause injury to the wellbeing of the industry, to make it public for collective deliberation and redress rather than to condemn it.
He maintained that regardless of the challenges associated with new developments in the sector, those in the industry should learn to adapt to them. While advocating for full implementation of the VPA, he also asked that the concerns and needs of local beneficiaries be taken into consideration.
“I still believe we can be using wood for what it has been used for over the last 100 years, but we need to go deep down to look at the tertiary production and consider how we can also develop the sector -- because at the end of the day we must get the wood for our people, but we must also make sure that we sustain the industry,” he added.
This pronouncement follows some concerns raised by some woodworkers fin fear of job-losses with the full implementation and enforcement of the ban on illegal timber exports from March 2014.
The VPA, which was ratified by Ghana’s Parliament in 2008, seeks to end the export of illegal timber from Ghana into EU. It aims to improve forest governance through ensuring that timber imported into the EU has complied with the legal requirements of the partner country – in this case, Ghana.
The EU remains as one of the biggest markets for timber products and the VPA forms part of a 2013 action-year plan to combat illegal logging. The EU is the destination for 60% of Ghana’s timber exports; however, last year the share fell to 20%.
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