Ghana to become first African country to issue FLEGT Licence for timber exports to EU

Russell Nketiah Tannor
Ghana to become first African country to issue FLEGT Licence for timber exports to EU

Ghana has made history by becoming the first African country to issue a FLEGT Licence, which will certify the legality and sustainability of its timber products exported to the EU market. Learn more about this remarkable achievement and its benefits for Ghana and the world.

Ghana has achieved a remarkable feat in the global fight against illegal timber trade, as it is set to become the first African country to issue a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Licence for its timber and wood products exported to the European Union (EU) market. The licence, which is expected to be operational in 2024, will certify that the timber or timber related products exported under that licence are legal and comply with the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which prohibits the placing onto the EU market illegally harvested timber and timber related products derived from such timber.

Ghana to become first African country to issue FLEGT Licence for timber exports to EU

The FLEGT Licence is the result of over a decade of institutional and regulatory reforms in Ghana's timber sector, which began in 2009 when Ghana became the first timber-producing country to sign a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU. The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement that aims to improve forest governance and ensure that only legal timber and timber products are exported to the EU from Ghana. Under the VPA, Ghana has developed a Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), which verifies the legality of timber products at every stage of the supply chain, from the forest to the point of export.

The TLAS also involves the participation and oversight of various stakeholders, including public authorities, private sector, civil society and local communities, who have been actively involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of the system¹. The TLAS is expected to bring multiple benefits to Ghana, such as enhancing transparency and accountability in the forest sector, promoting sustainable forest management and conservation, improving revenue collection and allocation, strengthening the competitiveness and market access of Ghanaian timber products, and improving the livelihoods and rights of forest-dependent communities.

The achievement of Ghana was announced during the 11th Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM) meeting held between Ghana and the EU in Brussels from September 20 to 26, 2023. The JMRM is a platform for dialogue and cooperation between the two parties to review and assess the progress, challenges and opportunities of implementing the VPA. The meeting was attended by a high-level delegation from Ghana, led by Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, and representatives from various stakeholder groups.

During the meeting, the parties agreed on the Joint Action Plan towards FLEGT licensing, which outlines the final procedural steps to be taken before FLEGT licences can be issued. The parties also discussed other issues related to forest governance, such as land tenure reform, benefit sharing mechanisms, domestic market regulation, traceability system, independent audit and verification, stakeholder engagement and communication.

The parties expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and commended each other for their commitment and efforts in advancing towards FLEGT licensing. They also reaffirmed their mutual interest in strengthening their partnership and cooperation on forest-related issues beyond FLEGT licensing.

Ghana's achievement is a milestone not only for itself but also for Africa and the world. It demonstrates that it is possible to transform the forest sector through a collaborative approach that balances economic, social and environmental objectives. It also shows that Ghana is a leader in promoting responsible trade and production of timber products that contribute to global efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. Ghana's example can inspire other countries in Africa and beyond to follow suit and join the global movement towards legal and sustainable timber trade.

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  1. Emmanuel Acquah FiifiSeptember 30, 2023 at 1:38 PM

    Wow thats very a good one there for Ghana but its up to our leaders to utilise our resources well...

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