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04.04.2007 Regional News

Stakeholders urged to ensure transparency in the forestry sector

By gna
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Mr Andrew Agyei Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, has urged all stakeholders in the forestry sector to work towards promoting greater transparency and legality in the sector.

Speaking at a national stakeholders' forum on the revised Ghana Forest Certification Standards, Mr Yeboah, cautioned that no particular interest group should be allowed to dominate or have its way in the certification process.

This, he explained, would enhance the credibility of the certification scheme and acceptability by all stakeholders.

The National Forest Certification Standards, which began in 1996, aims at pursuing a national strategy to achieve sustainable forest management in Ghana.

A National Working Group (NWG) on forest certification, which comprised technical expertise for the implementation of certification activities in Ghana, had already been established while a National Governing Council (NGC) to an advisory role had also been constituted.

The forum, which was attended by representatives from the trade and industry in the forest sector, NGOs, government, research and academia, landowners, forest managers and community groups, aimed at discussing the revised certification standards for adoption and implementation.

Mr Yeboah said the issue of illegal logging in timber trade had become an important issue not only to the international community but also to the government as well.

He said the significance of Europe to Ghana in terms of timber trade made it imperative for all stakeholders to discuss the issue of illegal activities in the sector and find lasting solutions to them.

Dr Ernest Asare Abeney, Chairman of the NWG, said the group had been able to review the Ghana National Forest Certification Standards in the light of recent changes in forestry policies and practices in Ghana.

He said 11 companies were pursuing forest certification in the country and appealed to the government to grant such companies tax relief to motivate others to comply.