The Forestry Commission (FC) has launched two digital applications to position itself to meet the emerging global trends that govern the management, regulation and trade in forest products.
The platforms - E-Property Mark Registration/Renewal System and the Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System- are aimed at improving service delivery in the management of forest and wildlife heritage of the country.
The E-Property Mark Registration System is a web-based application, which is designed to assign a unique identity to loggers and contractors in all their dealings with the FC within a day.
By law, a contractor or logger is required to renew his property mark twice a year, thus, January and July.
Without the property mark, one cannot harvest, transport or mill timber products.
With the introduction of the new digital system, the private operators in the sector will make significant savings for time and cost as well as reduce the risks associated with multiple travels to renew property marks.
The Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System, on the other hand, is an enhanced web-enabled digitalized platform, which allows users to track wood along the entire supply chain, from the point of harvest to the point of sale.
With this application, inconsistencies in data capture along the supply chain can be quickly detected and corrected.
These inconsistencies, which could be a result of either deliberate or wrong data entry, have serious implications for forest management.
Additionally, the systematic collation of transaction data along the supply chain makes it possible to establish a chain of custody for market consignments and exports.
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, speaking at the launch of the applications at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu Municipality, noted that the world was at a stage where science and technology had become the new currencies for development.
He said it was for this reason that the government was pursuing a digitalization agenda in all aspects of national life.
Mr Jinapor said the forests continued to be the mainstay of the many rural populations, supporting some two million Ghanaians and contributing immensely to both domestic and international markets.
He said the digital platforms would significantly reduce the number of hours loggers and contractors spent in their quest to renew their marks and also increase revenue mobilization of the Forestry Commission.
The Minister reiterated government's commitment to sustainably manage and develop forests and wildlife resources to ensure that future generations had better, richer and more valuable forests and wildlife endowment.
Mr John Allotey, Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, said the Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System was an invaluable source of information for decision making.
The platform, he explained, allowed for the full disclosure of forest management and timber trade information on online dashboards.
Mr Allotey mentioned that the FC with support from the UK government had installed solar panels in 34 districts in Ghana to provide electrical support for the operating systems of the applications.
Dr Julian P. Wright, West Africa Senior Climate Change and Natural Resource Advisor at the British High Commission in Ghana said the UK treated forestry issues with much prominence that was why it supported the installation of solar panels with some £10 million.
He said the UK had a long-standing partnership with Ghana on forest management and protection and pledged that the British government would continue to work with Ghana to achieve sustainable forests and wildlife legacies.