The Director of Tropenbos Ghana, Mrs. Mercy Owusu-Ansah, has underscored the need for the establishment of more artisanal timber milling plants to meet the growing domestic market demand.
She said people engaged in illegal chainsaw operation should be encouraged and supported to set up artisanal timber mills to legally process and supply lumber so that there would be enough wood products on the local market.
There was also the added advantage of collecting taxes from them to boost government’s revenue.
The country is estimated to be losing about US$100,000 annually through illegal chainsaw activities.
Mrs. Owusu-Ansah was speaking at workshop held at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu Municipality to formally mark the end of the “Supporting knowledge and regulation of overland timber trade and promoting domestic legal timber supply through artisanal milling in Ghana” project.
The 15-month project was implemented by Tropenbos Ghana with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It aimed to back up the regulation of overland timber trade by providing support to relevant stakeholders with appropriate guidance to effectively undertake their duties as regulatory institutions, while at the same time, increasing the supply of legal lumber on the market.
A total of 73 officers from the regulatory agencies – the Timber Industry Development Division of the Forestry Commission, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the police and timber traders were trained under the project.
Forty-five (45) small-scale millers in Ejura, Begoro, and Assin Fosu were also exposed to artisanal milling techniques.
Mrs. Owusu-Ansah said the project undertook analysis of the viability of artisanal timber milling, conducted a survey on small-scale millers and concluded that it was feasible and could generate more revenue for the country.
She described as deeply disturbing the massive destruction of the ecosystem through illegal chainsaw milling and said that could not continue