A training workshop for operators of Small and Medium Forest Enterprises (SMFEs), has been held in Kumasi as part of efforts to empower them to meet Ghana's Timber Legality Standards (GhLAS).
The workshop, which was put together by the Kumasi Wood Cluster Association (KWC) and Preferred by Nature, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) was attended by 30 participants drawn from the high forest zones of Ghana.
Officials from the Forest Services Division (FSD), Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) and the Timber Validation Department (TVD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) were on hand to take the participants through requirements for harvesting timber.
They admitted that the intervention would make their work easier and facilitate the rapid attainment of the legality requirements for the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA)-Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing processes in Ghana.
The VPA is a bilateral trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and timber-exporting countries outside the EU which insists that any wood exported from a timber-producing country to the EU comes from legal sources.
It also helps partner countries to stop illegal logging by improving forest governance and regulation.
Dr. Frank Ankomah, Verification Manager of the TVD of the FC, applauded the organisers for the intervention which, he said, would propel Ghana to fulfil the requirements for FLEGT licensing sooner than expected.
He said the interventions by the two organisations adequately covered the various legality principles including how to prepare and implement forest operational plans, operational maps and logging maps as well as issues of health and safety of timber workers.
Mrs. Esi A. Banful, General Manager of KWC, said the project had been largely successful but few challenges such as non-cooperation from some of the beneficiary companies were encountered.
She called for more funding to enable KWC to extend the project to more companies to enhance Ghana's journey towards the attainment of the FLEGT license.
The participants expressed excitement about the training and pledged their preparedness to follow the requirements laid out per the regulations.
They were certain that it would help grow their businesses while protecting the environment and sustaining forest resources for posterity.