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New Interim Forest Stewardship Standard validates responsible forest management in Ghana

Ghana’s forests: integral to economic growth and environmental sustainability

FSC (https://FSC.org) is pleased to announce the official release of the new FSC Interim Forest Stewardship Standard (IFSS) for Ghana. It is applicable for all categories of Management Units, including provisions for Small or Low Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMFs) and certification of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs).

Ghana is a country in west Africa with a rich biodiversity and the forestry sector plays a significant role in the national economy for its social, environmental, and economic benefits. The forests in Ghana cover about 35 percent of the country’s total land area and serve as a source of timber, non-timber forest products, and employment, while also contributing to climate regulation, water catchment protection, biodiversity conservation, and soil conservation. These crucial socio-economic and regulatory roles of forests in Ghana are reinforced by their ecological diversity; ranging from the high-forests in the south (rain and deciduous forest), accounting for about one-third of the land area (8.2 million hectares), the coastal Guinea and Sudan savanna (15.7 million hectares), and a transitional forest-savannah zone, mostly made of semi-deciduous forest in the middle belt (1.1 million hectares).

The formal forestry sector employs about 120,000 Ghanaians with employment predominantly in log processing industry and contributes to about 36 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The timber industry is the fourth largest foreign exchange earner after minerals, cocoa and oil exports. While the Forestry Commission is the legally mandated to managed forest reserves, in practice however, the Forestry Commission awards legal concessions in the form of Timber Utilization Contracts (TUCs) to legal forest entities for the utilization of timber resources within such concessions.

Crafting conservation: a turning point in sustainable forestry.

Ghana’s forest cover has dwindled significantly since 1900. Over eight million hectares (8 million ha) have vanished, with nearly one million hectares disappearing in recent years (Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy, Annual Report 2022 (https://apo-opa.co/3wsH9Hc)). Among other notable environmental and natural resources management projects, Ghana is implementing a remarkable national REDD+ strategy that includes conservation, restoration, and improved management of forest resources.

“Sustainable forest management should therefore not only be seen as an aspect, but essence and irreducible core of the approach and measures to realizing effective nature and biodiversity outcomes.”

The new IFSS for Ghana which incorporates FSC’s latest Principles and Criteria into effective forest management, becomes effective from 1st August 2024, and represents a significant step forward in FSC’s commitment to fostering sustainable forestry practices in Ghana. The standard directly aligns with Ghana’s Forest Plantation Strategy (GFPS, 2016-2040 (https://apo-opa.co/3JSMcDW)) which aims to ensure planted forests are managed sustainably, delivering a range of economic, social, and environmental benefits to all stakeholders. Developed between April 2020 and March 2023, the process included two 60-day stakeholder consultation periods and two online stakeholder consultation meetings, ultimately gaining approval on January 15, 2024. With this Interim Forest Stewardship Standard serving as a practical tool, FSC certification offers a credible, rigorous, and globally respected pathway towards sustainable forest management.

The IFSS for Ghana (English version) can be downloaded in the FSC Document Centre (https://apo-opa.co/3QzO4Fk).Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Forest Stewardship Council.

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