[Ghana] Artisanal millers granted limited small-scale timber rights
Artisanal timber millers are the key suppliers to Ghana’s domestic timber market. However, they have only limited access to commercial timber from production forests. This access is provided by means of Timber Utilisation Contracts (TUCs).
TUCs are granted through a competitive bidding process that puts artisanal millers at a disadvantage. They lack the financial capacity to compete for contracts against the large-scale traditional millers.
Civil society organisations led by Tropenbos Ghana have lobbied for a legal provision to address this unfair situation. A significant success came in 2017, when the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources introduced a legal provision under the Timber Resource Management and Legality Licensing Regulations 2017 (LI 2254).
It provides for the granting of small areas of forests that do not qualify for a conventional TUCs to artisanal millers as Small-Scale TUCs. Procedures for the acquisition of Small-Scale Timber Rights are included in the provision.
This step forward in improving the supply of legal lumber to Ghana’s domestic market is also important from an international perspective. It addresses the scarcity of legal lumber on Ghana’s domestic market, which is a major threat to the successful implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Ghana and the European Union.
The new provision may help address some of the problems that still exist in the artisanal timber sector. A nationwide survey that TBI conducted in 2017 among 221 artisanal millers showed that 35 percent of them still sourced their timber illegally.It also found that 91% of the millers were registered with the Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission.
Those who were not registered were either in the process of registering or had only recently installed their machines. In addition, 81% of the mills surveyed produced solely for the domestic market.
The survey made it clear that the people who operate small-scale mills need training in business management as well as technical skills. They also need more knowledge of basic forestry policies, laws and regulations.
Based on this information, Tropenbos Ghana called on the Forestry Commission Training Centre to partner with the Timber Industry Development Division to build the capacity of small-scale mills for more efficient wood processing.
TBI also recommended that guidelines be developed for linking small-scale millers to TUC holders to provide access to legal lumber for processing to supply the domestic market in accordance with the regulations of the VPA.
This would also help to support TBI’s call for a national upscaling of the artisanal timber milling concept.