Expected result 1: Increased capacity and engagement of 60 small and medium-size operators and 120 artisanal timber groups (producers and traders) in complying with the requirements enshrined in the implementation of FLEGT/VPA in Ghana
Below are the activities implemented to achieve result 1.
Activity 1.1: Conduct training needs assessment across and among different categories of SMEs and Artisanal Timber Millers
Training needs assessments were carried out early in the project to help us determine the gaps in information, skills and knowledge of artisanal millers and SMEs so their training would focus on filling that gap. This ensured we arrived at the needs of the stakeholder groups through consultations rather than assumption. Respondents were drawn from government organisations, CSOs, private sector, timber trade associations, SMEs, artisanal timber millers, media and forest fringe communities.
The results of these needs assessments helped us develop training modules focused specifically on the stated needs of the stakeholders. General background information on the FLEGT, VPA and forest laws and policies were also included for broad relevance.
Activity 1.2: Design and produce training modules
Two modules – one for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and timber millers and another for the media – were produced using these needs assessments.
The training modules provided areas of focus for the trainers, but were also flexible to allow for additional information they considered important or to respond to requests from trainees for information not covered. The trainees found these and the training workshops very effective in providing the information they needed about illegal and corrupt forest practices and how to support good forest governance.
Activity 1.3: Train 60 SMEs on how to comply with FLEGT/LAS and Due Diligence requirements
SME workers from the Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLTA), Ghana Timber Association (GTA), Ghana Timber Millers Organisation (GTMO), Small Scale Timber Millers Association (SSTMA) and Woodworkers Association of Ghana (WAG) were trained in: education on VPA/FLEGT and Ghana’s forest policy, laws and regulations; Skills for record keeping and documentation; the Wood Tracking System, which monitors movements of timber and its products from the forest to the point of sale on the domestic market or export; the FLEGT licensing system by the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD); and Verification of legal timber from third party suppliers. The thematic areas of the training workshop programme were (a) The EU Due Diligence requirements and the role of SMEs in achieving legal forestry in Ghana; (b) Key elements of the Ghana Legality Assurance System (GhLAS) and how to comply; (c) The chain of custody procedures and verification of FLEGT compliance; and (d) Understanding Ghana’s forest policy, laws and regulations. The role of the Independent Monitor (IM) was also explained.
Questions raised during the workshops exposed a lack of awareness of what constitutes illegal logging, or of the role of government, development partners, SMEs and other actors along the timber production chain in promoting good forest governance in Ghana. The facilitators were also questioned as to why the government and its partners have not been engaging communities in mitigating the illegal and corrupt forest activities that have caused so much forest destruction and biodiversity loss. The exchanges were very positive and progressive, and showed enthusiasm for ensuring good forest governance and management.
The trainings resulted in very positive impacts. Three quarters of the trained SME workers are contributing to VPA implementation by sourcing legal timber for their operations, documenting transactions, and keeping records of Log Measurement and Conveyance Certificates (LMCC) and waybills. They have also collaborated with the FC, especially the Forest Services Division (FSD), Timber Validation Department (TVD) and TIDD, to support effective implementation of the Wood Tracking System (WTS).
Activity 1.4: Train 120 artisanal timber groups on how to comply with FLEGT/LAS and legal timber requirements for the domestic market
Artisanal millers were trained in how to comply with legal timber requirements. Their compliance will help shift demand towards legal timber and away from illegal sources. Trainees learned about the GhLAS and how they can acquire legal timber for producing lumber, planks, boards and other timber products, and also learned about Ghana’s forest laws and policies
When discussing Ghana’s forest laws, several illegal actions such as unmarked/ unnumbered timber, transfer of timber without a Log Measurement and Conveyance Certificate (LMCC), processing of restricted species, sale of lumber cut with a chainsaw, and obstruction of authorised persons from carrying out official duties were highlighted. Their concerns over illegal forest activities were clear, but they were worried about the impacts on their livelihoods, prompting them to make some suggestions:
1. They agreed that chainsawing (which is illegal in Ghana) must be eliminated, but said there should be substitutes (alternative livelihood activities) to ensure that currently illegal operators are can find other work after stopping the illegal activities
2. Artisanal millers should take the issue of private plantations seriously to give them their own secure resource base in future.
3. Provide support for artisanal millers with wood-mizers (portable sawmills) to acquire legal logs, which will attract others to follow the same legal activities
The artisanal timber millers agreed that chainsaw operations contributed to the production of illegal timber, and these concerns have given us confidence they will contribute to stopping the illegal activities. However their concerns over finding alternative livelihood activities are very real and need to be addressed.
In sustaining the benefits of this project, the participants have shared their knowledge with others who were unable to participate in the training, and have also been discussing the issues with the forest authorities. A very positive sign is that there have been fewer reported cases of chainsaw activities, especially in Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Area.
Another positive outcome has been the efforts of the Obogu Woodworkers Association in the Juaso South District of the Ashanti Region. The training helped them realise the huge value of having their own source of legal timber, which will also give them a market advantage, and so they expanded their plantation in the Dome Forest Reserve by planting around 30,000 more tree seedlings.