Ghana to start importing timber

The West African nation once boasted a rich forest cover

By Sonalika Sinha
Published: Wednesday 13 August 2014


Uncontrolled deforestation coupled with illegal lumbering has forced Ghana, which was once a timber exporter, to start importing timber. Its 8.5 million hectare forest cover about 100 years ago has fallen to 1.8 million hectares now.

Addressing the northern sector timber association, Mike Hammah, minister, Lands and Natural Resource, announced that Ghana has concluded a short- to medium-term arrangement with Cameroon to import timber.

“The government is pursuing policy interventions to address challenges in the timber industry due to the gradual depletion of the country’s forest resources,” he said.

Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, deputy minister, Lands and Natural Resource, said, “If we do not feed employers within the industry they will lay off their employees.” Also, illegal chainsaw activities could increase if the government failed to bring in additional supply, she added.

The government had adopted the implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the introduction of public procurement policy in which only legally acquired timber will be used for all government projects, she said.

“Government is the lead developer in the timber industry and if it acquires all its timber from legal sources, it will go a long way in halting illegal lumbering and help the local timber industry,” she said.

Wide-ranging timber species

The tropical forests of Ghana boast a variety of timber species suitable for the construction industry, decking, flooring, panels and builder's woodwork. They intriguing grain structures, broad colour palette and natural durability fit for all architectural designs.

Statistics show that rapid population growth in the past four decades has resulted in harvesting of almost all economic tropical trees such as odum, sapele, mahogany and wawa among others for the housing and construction industry, leaving lesser-known species to meet the domestic and international markets.

Ghana’s timber goes to the markets of France, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands. The US market is also a major destination for Ghana’s lumber and rotary veneer exports.

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