Ghana is poised to become the first African country and the second country in the world to issue FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licences. Officials from the EU and Ghana’s Ministry of Land and Natural Resources and Forestry Commission announced that Ghana will continue to the last stage of implementation of its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a bilateral trade agreement on timber and timber products.
Since Ghana signed its VPA in November 2009, the country has made significant progress, improving Ghanaian forest governance by carrying out legal reforms, increasing transparency (VPA Update December 2018), welcoming civil society participation and completing corrective actions since its last evaluation (the first Independent Technical Joint evaluation in 2014).
During this last stage, the second and final Independent Technical Joint Evaluation, independent forestry experts will assess Ghana’s Legality Assurance System (LAS), the core of each Voluntary Partnership Agreement. They will examine the LAS’s five components: its legality standard, chain of custody system, verification system, licensing and independent monitoring of timber and timber products.
After reviewing recommendations to the Ghanaian Forestry Commission and EU Delegation resulting from the 13-week evaluation, Ghana and the EU will jointly agree on a date for licensing.
At the end of the VPA implementation process, Ghana will mark an important milestone and set a valuable example as Africa’s first nation to issue FLEGT licences. In addition to its many technical aspects, the VPA process has required years of reform and deep foundational changes. Most importantly, Ghana will have established a system that strengthens the governance of their forests and protects Ghanaian forests and forest peoples.