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Transparency in Ghana’s timber sector improved through public information portal

09/04/2018

A public portal of forest governance information has been launched in Ghana, aimed at improving transparency in the country’s forest sector and ensuring the credibility and integrity of the Ghana Wood Tracking System (GWTS).

The Ghana Timber Transparency Portal is part of broader governance reforms in the forest sector taken under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Ghana and the European Union in 2009. That agreement aims to ensure that only legal timber is exported by Ghana to the European Union or sold on its domestic market.

Access to information is one of the main requirements for transparency and accountability of Ghana’s timber legality assurance system. The GWTS, which follows timber from its point of origin to final point of sale, has been an important component of the timber legality assurance system, providing information relating to timber administration and legality verification.

However, a lack of stakeholder and public access to the information gathered in the GWTS database has been a concern that this portal will address.

“This portal will help to ensure that information related to the timber sector is publicly available and therefore, this will add to transparency — something very important in ensuring timber legality,” said Robert Simpson, manager of the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme, which is sponsoring the development of the portal.

As well as information on valid logging permits, the portal also provides details concerning timber logging companies and their areas of operation; information on timber exports from Ghana; and other periodic reports.

It’s expected that the new timber transparency portal will be expanded to include other relevant public information on forest management and timber logging in Ghana.

The transparency portal was developed in collaboration with Civic Response (a natural resource and environmental governance policy advocacy group in Ghana) and the country’s Forestry Commission, as part of the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) Project funded by the EU, the Swedish International Cooperation Agency and UKAid through the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme.

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