Ghanaian concession holders to receive trainings on legality and health and safety standards


Accra, 30 October 2020

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has launched a new project with the Nature and Development Fund (NDF) in Ghana, to promote sustainable forest management through enhanced legality of forest operations. The project will build the capacity of 40 concession holders without processing sawmills in selected forest districts in the Ashanti, Eastern, Central and Western regions of Ghana to comply with timber legality requirements.

Ghana is primed to become the second country in the world to issue Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses as part of the European Union’s FLEGT Action Plan to curb illegal logging. FLEGT licences will be the culmination of a process which began with the signing of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Ghana and the European Union in 2009. At the heart of the legal requirements is Ghana’s Timber Legality Assurance Systems (GhLAS) which sets out the requirements that all timber operators, including MSMEs, must comply with.

‘In the timber supply chain in Ghana, millers encounter buyers directly and must fulfil due diligence requirements daily. Loggers who do not own processing mills, on the other hand, sell their logs to millers who may not be as rigorous due to shortfall in supply of some species of logs. This project targets these loggers to bring them up to speed to meet FLEGT requirements when it is fully implemented in Ghana’, explained Glen Asomaning, NDF’s Operations Director.

Increasing legal compliance

Ghana’s forestry sector operates through a concession system with three categories of actors: 1) concession holders with processing facilities, 2) concession holders without processing facilities and 3) processing facilities without concessions. Recent capacity building projects for the private sector in Ghana have mainly focussed on either concession holders with sawmills or on sawmill owners with no forest concessions. Less attention has been paid to concession holders without processing sawmills.  

NDF’s training will take place at the ‘beginning’ of the timber supply line, that is, harvesting operations at felling sites, as well as during transportation. As these concession holders are often overlooked in capacity building projects, many are not aware of the harvesting and transportation national legal requirements outlined in the GhLAS. Over the coming months, NDF will identify and select the concession holders to take part in the capacity building training and produce training materials, including a visual guide to legal compliance.

Improving health and safety practices in forestry work

Once the legality training has been completed, the second phase of the project will focus on increasing compliance with health and safety standards which have been overlooked until this point. Respect of health and safety regulations remains a major issue in forestry work because of the high risks associated with operating machinery. Collaborating with Kumasi Wood Cluster, NDF will use manuals jointly developed by FAO and ILO to produce user-friendly infographics which will clearly illustrate minimum health and safety requirements established within the ILO - Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Forestry Work, and which will be in line with the Ghana Logging Manual and with GhLAS. NDF will distribute these manuals to project beneficiaries during the trainings and through the District Forest Offices. 

For some, these trainings will be their first exposure to health and safety standards.

Ensuring that small operations are able to comply with the GhLAS requirements, helps to ensure that smallholders can continue to access domestic markets and generate livelihoods from the production and trade of legal timber. 

Since 2016 the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has supported 25 projects in Ghana, amounting to over USD 2 700 000, primarily focusing on capacity building among private sector operators, communication, and the establishment of the GhLAS. Prior to the signing of the VPA in 2009, much of Ghana’s timber was illegally sourced – since then the country has seen a dramatic increase in the sourcing of legal timber and transparency.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.