Cabinet, at its twenty sixth (26th) meeting held on Thursday, March 31, 2022, granted approval for the conversion of one hundred and fifty-six (156) timber concessions and permits into Timber Utilisation Contracts (TUCs), to be ratified by Parliament, in accordance with article 268(1) of the Constitution and section 9 of the Timber Resources Management Act, 1997 (Act 547).
The introduction of Timber Utilization Contracts (TUCs) is a major policy reform in the forestry sector to provide for a competitive system of allocating timber resources. The Timber Resources Management Act, 1997 (Act 547), which came into force on 18th March, 1998, prohibits the harvesting of timber without a TUC. Prior to this Act, timber rights were granted in the nature of timber concessions, leases and permits under the Concessions Act, 1962 (Act 124).
Under Section 19 of Act 547, all existing timber rights prior to Act 547 were to be valid for only six (6) months, and holders of those timber rights were to apply for TUCs within six (6) months of the coming into force of the Act. However, for almost twenty-five (25) years after the coming into force of the Act, these concessions and leases have not been converted into TUCs.
By this approval, Ghana has made significant progress in the legal trade of timber and will become the first African country to meet the European Union’s (EU) requirement to trade in legal timber and the second in the World, next to Indonesia.
This approval also affirms Government’s commitment to ensure the legal and sustainable management of Ghana’s forest resources. The conversion of these extant leases and permits into TUCs to be ratified by Parliament will:
- provide Government with the legal backing to fight illegal trade in timber, both on the domestic and international markets;
- enable the country to derive appropriate revenue from holders of these contracts through the payment of Timber Right Fees and other statutory charges;
- put Ghana on track in discharging her obligations under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU to issue Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Licenses by the end of 2022 to cover all timber exports to the EU Market;
- support the fight against deforestation and forest degradation arising out of illegal harvesting of timber; and
- enhance environmental and natural resources governance, and contribute to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 13 and 15 regarding no poverty, zero hunger, climate action and life on land, respectively.
Government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is confident that, Parliament will ratify these long-overdue TUCs, to ensure the sustainable management of our forest resources. The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, is committed to the efficient and sustainable management and utilisation of the natural resources of our country in general, and our forest resources, in particular.
The Public Relations Unit
Ministry Of Lands And Natural Resources