WWF West Africa Forest Programme Office develops guide for timber exporters and importers from Ghana and Liberia

Posted on 15 December 2012

WWF – West Africa Forest Programme Office has completed its project on “Facilitating compliance with Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade and European Union Timber Regulation (EU TR) in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia”.
WWF – West Africa Forest Programme Office has completed its project on “Facilitating compliance with Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade and European Union Timber Regulation (EU TR) in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia”.

The project, implemented over a 17 - month duration resulted in the development of a timber legality guide for timber exporters and importers from Ghana and Liberia. Another key output of the project is the development of a strategy document for civil society organizations in environment, forest and social sectors as they seek to present a common front in the negotiation and implementation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) in Cote d’Ivoire. Funding for this project has been provided by the European Union through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation’s African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme.

The Project
Recognizing the changing international export requirements resulting from changing legal regimes such as the EU Timber Regulation and the United States Lacey Act Amendment among others, the project sought to contribute to measures targeted at eliminating illegal logging from the supply chains in these countries. Specifically, the project had an objective to develop a West Africa Timber Traders’ guide and to use this guide in various capacity building activities during and beyond the project’s duration.

Building Partnerships
As WWF – WAFPO is based in Accra, Ghana, the approach was to build partnerships with key stakeholders in these countries to execute activities with WAFPO’s oversight monitoring and supervision. The Forest Development Authority of Liberia, the Timber Validation Department of the Forestry Commission of Ghana and the National Working Group on Forest Certification and Sustainable Forest Management (GNT) in Cote d’Ivoire were partnered to undertake project activities. Critical inputs were provided by TRAFFIC – The wildlife trade monitoring network, the FAO in Ghana and the IDL group in Ghana and Liberia. All activities were however conducted with the technical supervision of WWF WAFPO’s Global Forest and Trade Network Programme.

Major Outcomes
In Ghana and Liberia, project beneficiaries have a good understanding of what the EU Timber Regulation is. The understanding of what to do to meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation has been greatly enhanced. Discussions with different stakeholder groups both in Ghana and Liberia to assist companies to maintain European market access after March 2013 are already underway as one group seeks to self-regulate as another seek to modify existing systems and create some more credibility for these systems. The results of a rapid needs assessment study conducted under this project for Ghana and Liberia has provided stakeholders vital information on where to concentrate future detailed needs assessment studies as well as where to concentrate immediate interventions. In Cote d’Ivoire, some level of enthusiasm has been generated among these civil society organizations to engage as a single unit in the upcoming VPA negotiations as well on other natural resources management issues including REDD+.

Moving forward
The document developed for Ghana and Liberia even though very useful, is only a first step. It is a good tool for other civil society organizations to use in their community educational programmes on forest management for instance. Moving forward however, there is a clear need to further simplify this document for specific target groups.

For Cote d’Ivoire, as captured in the words of Kouadio Bouattenin, the Technical Coordinator for GNT – CI “even though available funding was not much and the time was limited, the process has been fairly successful with participation in the regional meetings exceeding expectation; it is however a process which cannot be concluded within the tenure of this project; I believe subsequent activities will make our platform more formidable”. The acceptance of the strategy document is only a first step of several processes to come. Stakeholders will have to operationalize this strategy. Different stakeholders with experiences and capacities of various forms are therefore called upon to support this platform if the desired results can be achieved.

Contact Glen Asomaning @ gasomaning@wwfghana.org or Mustapha Seidu @ mseidu@wwfghana.org for more information.

Discussing measures being taken to meet new timber legality requirements
© WWF/WAFPO Glen Asomaning
Timber stumps are marked for future checks on legality
© WWF/WAFPO Glen Asomaning
Stakeholder workshop in Buchanan, Liberia
© Richie Grear
FLEGT/VPA awareness campaign in Cote d'Ivoire
© WWF/WAFPO/GNT - Cote d'Ivoire