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25.11.2005 Business & Finance

EU will accept timber from certified and sustainable sources

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Kumasi, Nov. 25, GNA - Mr. Gordon Wetherell, British High Commissioner in Ghana, on Thursday advised Ghanaian timber exporters to the European Union (EU) markets to ensure their products were legally certified from sustainable sources.

He said this was necessary because procurement policies of the United Kingdom (UK) and most EU countries were being changed to accept only certified timber from legal and sustainable sources into their markets.

Mr. Wetherell gave the advice when addressing a forum of stakeholders in the timber industry in Kumasi. He is leading a 12-member EU Ambassadors in Ghana delegation on a three-day field trip to forests in Ghana.

The trip being sponsorship by the UK Government is to afford the delegation an insight into problems affecting the timber industry in Ghana, understand concerns of the forestry sector, and the needed assistance to solve the problems.

They will visit a forest reserve in the Ashanti region, Mim Scanstyle a furniture manufacturing company in the Brong-Ahafo region, and Samreboi in the Western region to inspect the operations of Sarmatex.

Mr. Wetherell said about 60 per cent of Ghana's timber products were exported to EU markets therefore, it was important for Ghana to be abreast with the changes within the EU markets to benefit from the potentials in the markets.

Mr. Atta Owusu, Ashanti Regional Manager of the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission (FC), said despite the ban on chain saw operations, the perpetrators continued with their operations. "In fact, illegal logging and chainsaw operations have been the bane to sustainable forest management, and invariably to the forestry certification therefore, steps should be taken to address the menace which is affecting the country's forest resources," He added. Mr. Acquah Moses, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Timber Millers Organisation (GTMO), appealed to the EU to use the new conditions and policies on timber exports to assist promote trade from developing countries to improve on their economies.

In an address read for him, Mr. Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister, observed that ignorance was a major cause of depletion of the country's forest reserves, but said the Government had already initiated programmes to help reactivate and sustain the forest. Mr. Boafo said Government was fully aware of the effects of forest resources on social and economic development of the country, and would explore all avenues to protect and ensure its sustainability at all levels.

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