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The following is an informative article about the timber market in Ghana.
Timber Dearth in Ghana, an intra African Timber a Solution?
Ghana's timber market has long been a reliable source of employment, exports and income for the country, yet between the heavy demand and illegal cutting Ghana's resources have been drastically depleted. Ghana's forests have been all but wiped out declining from8 million hectares to 1.8 million hectares in less than six decades. The issues Ghana faces due to the rapid depletion of timber is two fold. The first, is the obvious lack of the timber as a wealth producing economy building export; it is estimated that 30,000 jobs have been lost in Ghana since the start of the timber decline. The second, is the lack of timber resources for the Ghana people themselves.
The question then becomes will they turn a near crisis into a new opportunity? Ghana has already been granted approval by the Timber Industry Development Division to being importing timber from other near by African countries. The hope is that Ghana will use the imported timber for their own people while saving their timber to sustain their much needed export business. This new trade between African countries could effectively open the doors for other Central African countries to begin more regular trade and importations.
But what of Ghana's suffering exports and timber? Will this importation of timber be a viable solution to Ghana's timber crisis? Although that still remains to be seen, it does not seem likely if the country for not take other vital measures. The importation from other African countries may prove simply to be a band aid until Ghana is able to more reliably police illegal timber trafficking and create a sustainable timber supply independently through reforestation. Ghana has been putting man power and money towards the problem, spending upwards of 10 million Ghana Cedis ,about 3 million US dollars. Yet this has not seemed to slow the rapid deforestation. These efforts seem to be a story of too little, too late given that the country watched the decline of timber producing forests for decades without raising much alarm.
In 2009 Ghana signed the voluntary partnership agreement with the European Commission, VPA, which has also aided Ghana in rebuilding their forests and slowing the illegal timber removal that has overwhelmed the country. The European Commission sees the desperate need for Ghana to regain its footing in the timber industry. As part of the agreement to allow for importation of timber they stipulated the necessity to reorganize the infrastructure that oversees reforestation and policing. It is possible that this combined effort of importation and renewed efforts to reforest will save Ghana, but the countries timber economy cannot be saved by importation alone.