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30.08.2005 Regional News

Forest certification workshop opens


Kumasi, Aug.30, GNA - A stakeholders workshop on forest certification opened at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi on Tuesday.

The workshop, organised by the Africa Regional Office of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was aimed at creating awareness on the Council, its certification scheme and office in Kumasi. It also discussed the potential as well as positive trends of forest certification as a tool for promoting sustainable forest management in Africa.

The workshop also provided forum for discussions on sustainable forest management and certification in Ghana. It discussed a draft report on a study commissioned by the Council on "Forest resources, rural communities and prospects of sustainable forest management and certification in Ghana". The workshop is being attended by Forest scientists, traditional rulers, NGOs in forest and environmental protection, timber merchants, woodworkers as well as international representatives from the Council's headquarters in Germany.

Opening it Mr A. Adjei Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands Forestry and Mines, said sustainable forest management was one of the most important contributions the forestry sector could make to the sustainable development of any nation.

However, he said deforestation had denied Africa the maximum benefits from its rich forest reserve.

Mr Yeboah said due to economic, political, social, technological reasons and ecological campaigns, the timber sector in Africa had suffered serious setback in market competition, which had reflected in the difficulties in promoting sustainable management of the forest. He said forest certification was emerging as the most concrete and cost effective means of promoting and assuring consumers of forest products that the products they were consuming was from sustainable managed forest and related resources. Mr Yeboah was optimistic that recommendations from the workshop would help promote forest certification among major stakeholders in the forest sector.

He said in addition, Ghana's forest products would continue to be accepted on the international market while the forest resources were sustained.

Dr Demel Teketay, FSC Regional Director for Africa, said there was an urgent need to identify, develop and promote different strategies, tools and actions that enhanced sustainable forest management for the benefit of both present and future generations in Africa. He said forest certification could hep Africa towards sustainable forest management and thereby, increase long-term incomes of landowners, governments and forest industries.

Dr Joseph Rexford Cobbinah, Director of Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) who chaired the function, said if the current trend of forest degradation was not checked, the African continent could experience serious food and environmental crisis.

He said there was the need to embark on serious crusade to reduce incidence of illegal forest activities and conduct serious certification to protect the forest for posterity.