The objective of the Atumpan Project is, “to effectively communicate Ghana’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT–VPA) processes, milestones and outcomes towards European Union (EU) market actors and other stakeholders, in preparation towards FLEGT licensing”.
The 12-month project is being funded by the EU through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
Mr Samuel Mawutor, the Project Consultant, EcoCare Ghana, who gave an overview of the Project, said that Ghana entered the VPA negotiations in 2006 with two key objectives: Improving governance in the forestry sector and maintaining access to EU markets.
He said in doing so, Ghana sought to formalize the timber sector and transition from a paper-based timber tracking sector to a more efficient and effective electronic system to minimise human interactions in the chain of custody of timber, thereby, minimizing misuse and corruption.
He said Ghana would use the FLEGT-VPA as a market lever to stimulate in-country legal compliance by both private sector and forest administrators.
Mr Mawutor said the Project addressed the need for effective information sharing on Ghana’s FLEGT-VPA, which was a priority area for Ghana as the country gets closer to issuing FLEGT licenses.
He said over the past few months, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and FAO had supported trainings aimed at developing the capacity of key stakeholder to facilitate the implementation of Ghana’s FLEGT-VPA through coordinated messaging and information sharing.
Nana Tawiah Okyir, Acting Board Chairman, EcoCare Ghana said the organisation focused on policy and practises around community rights and forests, and how it related to development, climate change, wildlife conservation, agriculture and other land-use options.
He said they seek to positively impact the livelihoods of resource communities for them to meaningfully contribute and equitably benefit and develop from resource use.
Mr Chris Beeko, Timber Validation Division, Forestry Commission, said as Ghana gets closer to issuing FLEGT licenses, there was the need for strong and clear precursory information to the trade destinations, especially the EU.
Mr Musa Abu Juam, Director, Technical Division, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, who chaired, noted that there was still a wide gap between the objectives of FLEGT and people’s view of it.
He urged all and sundry to support the Atumpan Project, in order to ensure its successful implementation.