GFTN Ghana participants John Bitar & Company Ltd. and Logs and Lumber Ltd. achieve Controlled Wood and Chain of Custody certification

Posted on 30 November 2011    
Processed timber from forest reserves of Ghana for export
© WWF WAFPO/Mustapha Seidu
Accra - In the months of May and June 2011, John Bitar & Company Limited and Logs and Lumber Limited, two of the largest timber companies in Ghana and members of WWF´s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), were granted Controlled Wood (CW) and Chain of Custody (CoC) certification ( by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which will enable them to supply sustainable forest products to their buyers.

FSC Controlled Wood rewards companies that are making progress towards certification but do not yet meet the complete requirements for full forest management certification, thus eliminating ‘bad’ timber from the supply chain. It was introduced to meet growing demand for FSC and close the gap between demand and supply of FSC products.

CW applies five main criteria which is to avoid:
• Illegally harvested wood;
• Wod harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights;
• Wood harvested in forests where high conservation values are threatened by management activities;
• Wood harvested in forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use;
• Wood from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted.

When asked what has changed since the company achieved the Controlled Wood certificate, Mr. Samauel Tseganu, Certification Manager of John Bitar and Company Ltd. said: “According to our sales and marketing department, our customer base has increased significantly”. Mr. Salifu Abdul Moomin, Certification Manager of Logs and Lumber Ltd. who was asked the same question, replied: “ Since then, we have seen our export volumes increase because skeptical buyers are now feeling comfortable to buy our timber”.

Both companies have been participating in the GFTN – West Africa programme (WAFPO) that is based in Accra, Ghana, since 2006. As such, they have been contributing to GFTN’s global mission to transform the market place into a force for safeguarding the world’s valuable and threatened forests, whilst ensuring that these forests continue to provide economic and social benefits for the business and people who depend on them. GFTN is currently helping four of the largest timber companies in Ghana, to prepare for, and ultimately achieve FSC Forest Management (FM) certification.

Demand for responsible forest certification in Ghana has existed since the late 1990s, however, the actual work started in 2005 when the first baseline assessments were conducted for these companies with GFTN support. Since then, many companies have started to adopt forest management certification according to the FSC principles because it demonstrates to buyers that the wood has been sustainably produced or, at least, is coming from legal sources that can be traced back. FSC certification ensures that the forest is managed in an environmental, social and economic way so that it benefits the environment, people and businesses.

A win-win situation
With the support of WWF in Ghana, John Bitar & Company Ltd. and Logs and Lumber Ltd. have made significant efforts amongst which the assessment of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF), the preparation of documentation needed and the cleaning up of their supply chains in order to fully eliminate illegally sourced wood. Both companies also increased the number of educational courses for fringing forest communities who are now better benefiting from the timber operations of these two companies in their forests. One current example is a WWF-WAFPO project that is implemented with the support of John Bitar and West Africa Fair Fruit to assist cocoa growing forest fringing communities to become more efficient and generate increased income through community farming practices.

What challenges remain
For the two companies, achieving Controlled Wood and Chain of Custody certification is only a first step. The ultimate goal will be to achieve full FSC forest management certification that is expected to drive significant improvements in their forest management practices and that will guarantee full market access. The companies are also encouraged to continue their efforts if the demand for responsibly sourced timber and wood products continues to grow, the right environment is provided and support can be guaranteed by the forest management authorities in Ghana.

Processed timber from forest reserves of Ghana for export
© WWF WAFPO/Mustapha Seidu Enlarge
Forest reserve under timber production
© Mustapha Seidu Enlarge
Log being marked for identification
© Mustapha Seidu Enlarge

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