Mrs. Doreen Asumang-Yeboah, the Coordinator of the National Forestry Forum-Ghana, has tasked stakeholders to be responsive to their duties for the successful implementation of the Ghana-European Union (EU) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
She said they should ensure that all legal requirements and tenets under the Agreement were complied with to minimize illegal chain saw operations in the country.
The VPA seeks to strengthen community-based structures for forest law enforcement in the country to ensure domestic trade in legal timber. Signed in 2009, the Agreement is meant to prevent the exportation of illegally-harvested timber to any EU market.
Mrs Asumang-Yeboah, who was addressing stakeholders at a day’s forum on the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and VPA processes at Sefwi-Wiawso, in the Western Region, underscored the need to empower local communities in forestry management practices.
This, she said, was the only way forest governance could be improved to combat illegal logging activities in the country.
The forum, organized by the Working Group on Forest Certification Ghana with sponsorship from the EU, targeted Social Responsibility Agreement (SRA) Committee members, timber firms, the Forestry Commission (FC) and District Assemblies.
Participants were drawn from the Bibiani, Juaboso and Sefwi-Wiawso forest districts.
Mrs. Asumang-Yeboah reminded the participants that a timber could only be considered legal when its source, timber rights allocation, harvesting operations, transportation, processing, trade and fiscal obligations do not contravene laid down procedure and principles.
Mr Emmanuel Amoah Boakye of the Working Group on Forest Certification, Ghana, said they had for some time now been training forest fringe communities on alternative sources of livelihood such as bee-keeping to motivate them to protect the forest.
He assured that the Group would continue to embark on stakeholder meetings and sensitization workshops to keep the people abreast of the dangers inherent in forest degradation, as well as the benefits of the VPA.
The Director asked the participants to take the lessons learnt seriously, to build their capacity for effective work.
Mr Gregory Deri Chemogo, the Sefwi-Wiawso District Manager of the Forestry Services Division (FSD), advised communities in forest fringe communities to strive to expose to the relevant authorities, people who fell trees illegally. GNA