The Forestry Commission (FC) is seeking assent to a draft policy that will ensure that only legally-sourced wood is used for all government projects in the country, in a bid to discourage the activities of illegal chainsaw operators and facilitate a sustainable forest management regime.
According to the Trade and Industry Development Manager-TIDD at the Commission, Peter Edem Zormelo, the draft timber procurement policy will help to increase timber yield as well as reposition the industry to be more responsive to consumers’ needs.
Addressing a gathering of wood producers, real estate developers, investors and technocrats at a national stakeholders’ conference on the local wood and furniture industry in Accra, he said: “We are seeking assent to a draft policy on timber procurement that will ensure only legal wood products are used for all government projects in the country.
“The new law seeks to discourage deforestation and stimulate sustained yield of timber as well as help to conserve the environment under a sustainable forest management regime.
“In that regard, the FC will soon set up timber depots in various parts of the country under a public-private partnership arrangement to facilitate increased access and availability of genuine and legally-sourced wood products.”
Illegal chainsaw operations remain a major threat to sustainability of the country’s forest resources.
Efforts to curtail the situation have not been successful due to increasing demand on the domestic market as a result of the rise in infrastructural development, the weak approach of agencies that have been tasked to enforce regulations in the industry, and unattractive pricing of lumber supplied to saw-mills as compared to the offer from chainsaw operators.
A total of 6.8 million hectares of the country’s forest estate have so far been consumed, leaving only 1.8 million hectares from an estimated amount of 8.6 million hectares.
And according Mr. Zormelo, the policy when approved will help to restructure the wood and furniture industry to be more responsive to the needs of consumers.
The Forestry Commission, he said, is currently pursuing country level strategies for the marketing and promotion of domestic wood and furniture products on the global market.
He added: “Inconsistent and poor quality of lumber supply, scarcity of skilled personnel, and inadequate infrastructure—such as saw-mills and wood processing facilities—account for the sector’s inability to produce value-added products.
“The FC will continue to invest in skills development, product designs and technology to reposition the industry in line with the changing population structure, lifestyles and trends. This will make the sector more competitive and attractive to investors which is obviously lead to more jobs in the sector.”
The one-day conference brought together various stakeholders in the wood and furniture fraternity to discuss ways of growing the sector so it contributes meaningfully to national socio-economic development.