A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) has accused government of not doing enough to get the public procurement policy on timber and timber products passed – situation the group is attributing to the alarming destruction of the country’s forest resources.
The draft public procurement policy which has been in the works for about 10 years is expected to address the sale of illegal timber on the domestic market by making sure that for instance timber products used for government projects are genuine.
Glenn Asomaning, Operations Director at Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), stated that the greater part of the country’s forest cover has been lost to illegal logging and with government’s projects being the greatest consumer of timber products, government must take the lead and pass the procurement policy.
According to the Forestry Commission, out of the 600,000m³ lumber traded on the domestic market annually, more than 80 percent are illegally acquired a situation which poses a grave danger to the country’s forest cover.
Data from Global Forest Watch, an organisation providing real-time information on forest depletion and how to best protect them, between 2001 and 2015 alone, Ghana lost more than 700,000 hectares of forest, an equivalent of 700,000 football fields.
Mr. Asomaning told journalists at a workshop organised by NDF to highlight the dire straits facing the country’s forest that the country risks losing all of its forest in the next two decades of so if government does not take the lead role in regulating how timber and timber products are sourced for domestic usage.
“Due to prevalence of illegal timber products on the domestic market we will not be surprised if there are government projects which are executed with illegal timber. We believe that as the biggest consumer of wood, if government should take this bold step and demand that its contractors use legally-acquired timber, it will reduce the market for these illegal lumbers,” he said.
The timber procurement policy, which the organisation has been pushing for a while now, will require that State institutions (procurement entities) together with their contractors and subcontractors working on public projects procure only timber and timber products derived from a legally and/or sustainably harvested forest, or from legal sources for use in public projects.
The policy will require that vendors of timber and Timber Products destined for sale on the domestic market to be registered by the Forestry Commission.
Successive ministers of Lands and Natural Resources have promised to push through the policy which will eventually become a Legislative Instrument but have been unable to do so.
Mr. Asomaning added that the absence of the policy threatens the very existence of Ghanaians as rivers which act as water sources take their sources from forests are increasingly under attack and their degradation could eventually lead to water crises.
He mentioned that cocoa, which is a main foreign exchange earner for the country, cannot exist without forest and the continuous depletion of forest will eventually lead to the decline in cocoa’s output and ultimately job losses.