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2013 Assessment Findings

There has been significant progress in tackling illegal logging since 2010. The Ghanaian government has taken a number of important steps to reduce illegal logging and related trade, most notably with the signing of the Ghana–EU voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) in 2009. This agreement has prompted improved multi-stakeholder dialogue as well as a process of legal reform. Considerable effort has also been put into the development of a timber legality assurance system, which has been successfully piloted. However, a number of enforcement and administrative challenges remain, particularly in relation to tenure and land and resource rights, as well as broader governance challenges including corruption.

Awareness of the issue of illegal logging has improved among the private sector, and the area of natural forest that is verified as legally compliant has increased considerably in recent years. However illegal practices remain widespread in the country. Illegal chainsaw milling is prevalent, predominantly supplying the domestic market. Illegality is also an issue in supply chains for export, albeit at a lower level. Trade data discrepancies indicate that illegal trade is a problem and there is a lack of clarity over the legality of many logging permits.

A key challenge for the country is its declining resource base. The forest sector has shrunk considerably over the last 15 years as a result of this, and the situation looks set to worsen. Wood-balance estimates indicate that timber consumption considerably exceeds sustainable harvesting levels.

2010 Assessment Findings

The 2010 assessment did not find any evidence of significant reductions in illegal logging in Ghana in the preceding years. Although the number of cases detected had increased, this may have been a result of improved enforcement. Expert perceptions of illegal logging levels were the most negative of the five producer countries and these recorded the least evidence of improvement. Both wood-balance analysis and the expert survey suggested that illegal logging, at around two-thirds of overall production, remained high and was worse than in either Cameroon or Indonesia. Only a quarter of illegal timber production was from large-scale producers, the bulk of the problem relating to artisanal ‘chainsaw’ logging.

Laws, policies and regulations in Ghana remained quite poor in many areas. No timber production in Ghana was independently verified as legal or sustainable in 2009. The proportion of Ghana’s wood exports destined for sensitive markets had been declining rapidly since 2001 – one possible reason for the poor private-sector response.

Recommendations made in 2010 were that new and improved timber-tracking and information-management systems were urgently needed. Ghana also needed to improve best practice in enforcement, including applying higher penalties and speeding up processing of cases through the courts.