30 June 2005

Ghana: European Buyers Warn Ghana's Timber Industry

European timber buyers have told the timber industry in Ghana to get its products independently verified for legality to meet new European market demands.

This was conveyed to the timber industry in Ghana at a two-day forum in Kumasi last week by a group of timber buyers from the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, led by the United Kingdom Timber Trade Federation (TTF).

The forum was organised by the EU in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines and the Forestry Commission.

The forum, which brought together over 50 Ghanaian timber producers, was the first in a series of Africa-wide trade forums to hear how the international markets for timber were changing.

The group said a new market research commissioned by the UK TTF showed that the six biggest European markets for Ghanaian timber were demanding independently verified legal timber from suppliers and if possible, certified sustainable timber.

Mr. Andrew Adjei Yeboah, a Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, assured the group that Ghana was well placed to meet the challenges since independent auditing of timber harvesting practice could re-assure customers that the timber had been extracted in accordance with the forest law.

He pledged to address outstanding issues over the allocation of timber felling rights so that the legal ownership of timber could be classified.

"The Forestry Commission is developing a new log tracking system that would provide further guarantees that timber exports are legal."

The Ghana Timber Millers Organisation affirmed that the industry was ready to meet the challenges and work with the government to supply the EU market with independently verified legal timber.

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