The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills says 80% of timber used in the country is derived from illegal sources.
Expressing disappointment in the activities of illegal chainsaw operators, he said this was injuring the growth and development of the sector.
The Minister said this when he addressed participants at a ‘voluntary partnership agreement’ ceremony organized in Accra on Wednesday to enhance the certification and licensing of timber operations and its products in the country.
The agreement, which is under the auspices of the government of Ghana and the European Union, is to ensure that Ghana exports only legal timber products to the EU and sells only legal timber in its domestic market.
The Minister indicated that the activities of illegal chainsaw operators have become particularly worrisome since they are now controlling the timber trade and casting a shadow on the operations of legal entities.
Although taskforces have been instituted by the Forestry Commission to battle the illegal timber operations in the country, Nii Osah Mills indicated that their efforts have been hampered by lack of logistics.
He also revealed that some of the taskforces are rendered powerless in the face of sophisticated weapons being wielded by these illegal operators.
Speaking on requisite policies to help address the situation, Nii Osah Mills revealed that his outfit is currently devising a policy to ensure that the government uses only legally sourced timber.
“The Ministry is working around the clock to see to it that the government would use only certified timber in its activities, otherwise it would not be accepted to be used in its projects. We are currently pushing such a policy through to Cabinet,” he announced.
The move, according to him, would ensure that the government leads the crusade to ensure that only certified timber is used in the country.