Takoradi, Sept. 20, GNA - The Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLTA) has called on government to expedite action on the 2008 Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to ensure sanity in the domestic lumber market.
Mr Victor Nyadi, National President of DOLTA, said since the state signed the agreement with the European Union (EU) to govern trade in timber between the two parties under the VPA, little commitment has been made to attain its goals.
The VPA stated that timber originating from Ghana and arriving at an EU point of import without a permit should be denied entry and this could includes the supply of legal lumber(illegal chainsaw lumber) to the destined market.
Mr Nyadi said this to the Ghana News Agency in Takoradi after an advocacy workshop for the members of DOLTA adding that on Ghana's commitments to the VPA, a policy choice must be made.
The Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLTA) is made up of domestic lumber traders, table top machine operators, chainsaw operators and transporters and has a membership of about 25,000 people in 4 regions (Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta, and Central) of Ghana.
The Association's objective is to bring together all lumber traders and their associates under one national association to engage government on issues related to domestic lumber trade.
He said “the implementation of the VPA in Ghana, if not carefully carried out would have a significant impact on the livelihoods of stakeholders in the domestic lumber trade”.
It is also feared that measures to regularize the forest industry if based on current policies, will lead to a crackdown on the chainsaw lumber production enterprise and could potentially lead to serious conflicts”, he added.
The DOLTA President said an assessment by EU Chain Saw Milling project in 2010 shows that lumber traders would be seriously affected and this will also affect consumers of lumber adding that a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD) platform has been created discuss issues concerning illegal Chain Saw Milling and trade.
He said an independent study initiated by Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission under the Natural Resources & Environmental Governance Programme (NREG) recommended that Saw millers would be allowed to supply legal lumber to the domestic market with legal lumber.
Mr Nyadi said DOLTA has positioned itself to benefit from actions aimed at regularizing the domestic market, to ensure sustainable supply of legal lumber on the domestic market and undertake afforestation programmes to sustain the timber resource in Ghana.
He said the Association with support from the BUSAC Fund has embarked on an advocacy programme to educate its members and the general public across the country on the implications of the agreed policy proposal and the need for key stakeholders to expedite action in its implementation.