Ghana achieves historic VPA first13 September 2008
Ghana has become the first country to sign a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to prevent illegal timber imports from the nation entering the EU.
The landmark legally-binding agreement was signed in Accra by Ghana’s forestry minister Esther Obeng Dapaah and Stefano Manservisi, the EU’s director-general for development. It follows nearly two years of negotiations between Ghana and the EU.
Dr Ben Donkor of the Ghana Forestry Commission in London said Ghana was “very proud” to be the first country to sign the VPA.
He said the country’s timber industry had been sceptical of the VPA process at first but had now given its backing to initiative.
“With time, they have got on board,” he said. “Some have argued that more products should be involved but we are going to start with primary wood products.
“The timber industry is now VPA-friendly and they understand the measures, even though there will be some problems for them, especially those who have links with illegal logging. They have seen the light – that if everything goes well, sustainable management will mean continued business for them.
“Some people think the VPA is not sustainable management but I think it’s a very sensible way of getting into sustainable forestry. Tropical Africa VPAs give a better chance of achieving sustainble forest management because the level of illegality is just too high.”
Dr Donkor said much infrastructure needed to be put in place before the VPA could be implemented and estimated that the process could take one or two years to complete. The next stage will involve tendering for timber tracking equipment.
Malaysia, Indonesia, Cameroon and Gabon are also involved in VPA negotiations, with Malaysia set to sign an agreement soon.