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Ghana: Compel govt contractors to use legal lumber, says Forestry Commission official

5 Sep 2017

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The Assistant Manager of the Nkawie Forest District, Mr Mark Aidoo, has appealed to the government to expedite action on the passage of the Public Procurement Policy (PPP) on Timber and Timber Products to help fight the trading of illegal lumber.

He said the policy, which is expected to ensure that all contractors of public projects use legal timber by showing authentic documentation, would curtail illegal lumber trade and protect Ghana's forests from further destruction by illegal loggers.

Mr Aidoo made the appeal when the Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) conducted a group of journalists round the various timber markets in Accra and Kumasi as well as some forest reserves in the Ashanti Region to help acquaint them with the timber and forestry industry in Ghana.

He stressed the importance of the policy because government contracts were the highest consumers of illegal lumber, quoting a study by a number of stakeholders, including the Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLTA) and NDF.

About 6.6 million hectares of the country’s first cover has been lost over the last 28 years, with illegal lumber being a major contributor to the development.

 

‘Bush cut’

Mr Aidoo explained that most contractors and sub-contractors of the government bought illegal lumber, popularly known as ‘bush cut’, because it was cheaper than the legal lumber sometimes referred to as sawmill.

“So although the government might have paid for legal wood because contractors use that price for estimating the cost of projects, the contractors often settle for the ‘bush cut’, which is illegal but cheaper,” he said.

Mr Aidoo said the passage of the policy would, therefore, boost the fight against illegal logging and in effect illegal lumber trade.
It is estimated that about 80 per cent of the lumber on the market is illegal.

The assistant forest manager said because the Forestry Commission lacked the resources to check the transportation of illegal lumber into the market, the government had tasked the commission to fight the illicit activity from source by preventing illegal logging.

 

The policy

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources drafted the PPP in 2012 with assistance from its partners, and it was taken through extensive public and stakeholder consultation before being presented to Cabinet in 2015.

Per the guidelines, procurement units and entities for the various state departments will be mandated to verify the sources of timber products they procure.