EcoCare Ghana call on Parliament, Lands Ministry to extant leases and permits to valid timber utilization contracts

EcoCare Ghana has called on the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Forestry Commission and Parliament of Ghana to undertake their respective responsibilities as mandated by Law and convert extant leases and permits to valid timber utilization contracts to allow for successful issuance of FLEGT license before the end of 2020.

According to them, 2016 joint Assessment observed that only 4% of all existing timber contracts meet the VPA criteria for valid timber right. Majority of remaining 96% are extant leases and permits that need to be converted to timber utilization contracts (TUCs) ratified by Parliament before they become valid timber right for harvesting and trading in legal timber.

This problem, they said , has arisen because Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Lands failed to set in motion the processes to convert these extant and and permits since 1998, when the timber resources management Act, 1998 (ACT547) which made these extant leases illegal, was passed.

Speaking at a press conference today September, 9, 2020, the Managing Campaigner of EcoCare Ghana, Mr. Obed Owusu-Addai, commended the current CEO of Forestry Commission for his leadership in the process so far. To his outfit he said, the conversation process has begun, and a list of over hundred contracts have been prepared and submitted to the Ministry for signature and onward submission to Parliament for ratification.

To him, it is very important and crucial that the conversation process is concluded and submitted to Parliament because Ghana’s credibility on the international timber market and in the eyes of the European Union in particular is at stake.

He said this may affect future commitments and declarations made by Ghana on such bilateral/multilateral commitments. “If Ghana’s failure to issue a FLEGT license this year could also raise further barriers for our already ailing timber industry,” Obed disclosed.

Mr. Obed Owusu-Addai, furthered that Ghana has been presented with an opportunity to become only the second country in the world and the first in Africa to trade in FLEGT licensed timber.

EcoCare campaigner adding that a successful issuance of FLEGT license will also greatly remedy their ailing timber industry and assist in redirecting much needed funds and staff time from being used in responding to due diligence requests and invest them in supporting the welfare of their workers in this covid-19 pandemic.

The Civil Society is very proud of the milestones Ghana has achieved collectively, and predged to support government of Ghana to complete the process in accordance with Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources timelines of issuing a FLEGT license before or by the end of 2020.

Report by Bernard K Dadzie

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