Forest resource is fundamental to Ghana's socio-economic devt

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Accra, May 31, GNA- The sustainable management of the forest resource is fundamental to the social and economic development of Ghana, Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines said Tuesday.

He said his Ministry would diligently pursue the objective of providing services that guarantee the conservation, sustainable management of and development of the country's wildlife and forest resources for the optimum benefit of succeeding generations.

In a speech read for him by Mr Andrews Adjei-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, he said the forestry sector rakes in foreign exchange, generates employment, contributes immensely in the alleviation of poverty and enhances rural livelihoods.

The Minister was the guest speaker at a workshop on the sensitisation on the Implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Timber Trade with the European Union (EU).

More than forty persons drawn from the media, academia, traditional councils, timber industry and consultancy and the EU are attending the two- day workshop.

The EU and timber exporting countries are in the process of signing on to the VPA idea that would enforce the exportation of timber products, which are certified to be legally felled and processed, among others.

Prof. Fobih said Ghana was offering herself as one of the seven countries to sign on to the VPA.

He said that would help Ghana access the EU market after 2006 when the EU trade regulations are implemented.

"Through a VPA with EU, Ghana will qualify for priority EU development assistance not only for the implementation of a 'legal timber' licensing scheme but also for support to wider governance reforms within the sector."

He said the VPA comes with privileges that should not be missed. "Reinforce national objectives of sustainable forest management and improved governance.

"With sixty per cent of Ghana's wood product destined for the EU, it is essential for Ghana's economic development that we respond to changing markets and the ever increasing demand from our European buyers of verified legal origin," he said.

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