A TIMBER procurement policy is to be developed to make it mandatory for government projects to be undertaken with only timber produced from a legal source.
The measure forms part of efforts to reduce the volume of the illegal timber trade on the domestic market.
Nii Osa Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, announced this on Tuesday, when he launched the ‘One Man One Tree’ campaign, as part of activities marking the forestry week.
The campaign was initiated by the Forestry Commission to mark the 4th Forestry Week and Greening Ghana Day. It also marks the International Forest Day celebration which fell on March 21.
The week-long celebration is on the theme, ‘Healthy forests mitigate climate change’.
He said a voluntary partnership agreement would be implemented to ensure that only legal timber was exported to the European market.
Nii Osa Mills said there was the need to seriously address the causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the country to reduce rural poverty, improve food security and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
He said, “as you are all aware, the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Ghana are illegal mining, chainsaw operations, annual wildfires, inappropriate farming practices, he excessive fuel wood harvesting.”
Noted that they were similar in most developing countries, and stressed the need to reverse the trend.
The minister said the education and awareness creation on the impact on the general environment, forest and wildlife resources and water bodies being undertaken by the Commission, should be intensified in the forest communities to mitigate deforestation in the country.
Mr. Afari Dartey, Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, in a welcome address, said the International Day of Forests had been set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and Trees outside the forests.
He said the UN allowed member states to adopt and choose a suitable date for their celebrations of the Day, hence the FC decided to choose the month of May for the celebration because of its favourable climatic conditions during that time of the year, for tree planting and other silvicultural operations.
Mr. Dartey said the philosophy behind the “One Man One Tree Campaign” was that if all Ghanaians were able to plant one tree every year, approximately 26 million people would have planted 26 million trees, and hoped that if the trend continued, the vegetative cover of Ghana’s forest would increase tremendously, and supply of wood would outstrip demand.
He said unfortunately, plantation development which was the core business of the Commission, had been stalled for the past few years due to the lack of funds from the government, while those already developed had not seen any proper maintenance.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to release funds for the development of plantations.
The Board Chairman of the FC, Mr. Eddie Prah, said the world continued to lose its forest at an alarming rate of about 13 million hectares annually, which was estimated at 12-20 per cent of global greenhouse emissions which negatively impacted, on global climate change.
He said Ghana was known to have lost 80 per cent of its forest cover since the 1900s, and attributed the problem to factors such as urbanisation, both legal and illegal mining which had resulted in many rural communities suffering from rainstorms, because the trees which served as wind breaks had been removed.
By Seth Adu Agyei