Ghana, has a total land mass of 239,460 km2 lying between latitude 11.50N and 4.50 S and longitude 3.50W and 1.30 E. Ecologically, the country is made of three broad zones namely, the high-forest in the south (rain and deciduous forest), accounting for about one-third of the land area (8.2 million hectares), a savanna (15.7 million hectares – Coastal, Guinea and Sudan savannah), and a transition zone (1.1 million hectares1 mostly semi-deciduous forest in the middle belt)

Ghana’s quest to build a strong economy and vibrant business market requires the exploitation of all potential business avenues to create employment and prosperity. One such area which has lots of business potential is the forestry industry which the government, private sector and all stakeholders have not been able to maximize its value and potential.

THE FORESTRY INDUSTRY

Ghana is recognized as one of the most advanced tropical African countries in established forest policy, legislation, forest inventory, management planning, and in having a National Forest Standard and principles, criteria and indicators for judging the quality of forest management and usage. The forest industry is a large employer, much of it in the informal sector.

Ghana sells timber with a purpose to continue to put only legal timber from sustainable sources, adhering to the EU and International Tropical Timber Organization principles. This means that, Ghana is working towards achieving the EU’s FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) licensing and within the US Lacey Act regimes and with the assurances to specifics that, Ghana will continue to be at the forefront of international tropical timber market place for a long time. Ghana has a strong Forestry Commission (FC) including an overseas branch (FC London Office), a long history of forest management and capacity for forest research.

Ghana has a number of small, medium and large processing facilities manufacturing over 17 different wood products

AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SECTOR

MINISTRY OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

To ensure the sustainable management and utilization of Ghana’s Lands, forests, wildlife and mineral resources for socio economic growth and development and the efficient implementation, coordinating, monitoring and evaluating policies and programmes for sector agencies and an efficient  and equitable land delivery.

THE FORESTRY COMMISSION

The Forestry Commission of Ghana is responsible for the regulation of utilization of forest and wildlife resources, the conservation and management of resources and the coordination of policies. The Commission embodies the various public bodies and agencies that are individually implementing the functions of protection, management, the regulation of forest and wildlife resources. These agencies currently form the divisions of the Commission

  • WILDLIFE  : The Wildlife Division is one of  the three divisions of  the reconstituted Forestry Commission. It began as  a  branch of  the Forestry Department of  the Ministry of  Agriculture responsible for wildlife issues. In 1965, it became a full-fledged line agency of the Ministry of Forestry known as the Department of Game and Wildlife, which later changed to Wildlife Department after the adoption of the Forestry and Wildlife Policy of 1994. In the intervening, the Department moved from the Ministry of Forestry to the Ministry of Lands & Mineral Resources, Lands & Natural resources to the present  Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources. It is responsible for all wildlife in the country and administers 16 Wildlife-Protected Areas (PAs), 5 coastal Ramsar Sites and the Accra and Kumasi Zoos. It also assists with the running of 2 community owned Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • TIMBER  INDUSTRY  DEVELOPMENT  DIVISION:    To conduct pre-shipment inspection and examination of wood products and issue permits for the export of timber and wood products, track the movement of logs from the forest gates after the issuance of conveyance certificates, publish market intelligence in order to inform industry, government and public regarding pricing and trading.

MINERALS COMMISSION

The Minerals Commission as the main promotional and regulatory body for the minerals sector in Ghana is responsible for “the regulation and management of the utilization of the mineral resources of Ghana and the coordination and implementation of policies relating to mining. It also ensures compliance with Ghana’s Mining and Mineral Laws and Regulation through effective monitoring.

FORESTRY RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF GHANA (FORIG)

An Agency responsible for undertaking research and development activities towards solving problems relating to the forestry sector

Contribution of the Forestry Sector to the National Economy.

The forestry sector is one of the most important sectors in the Ghanaian economy in terms of jobs creation, incomes for local communities, foreign exchange earnings through timber products export and protection of the environment. Forestry is the provider of multiple tangible and intangible goods and services classified into three categories as follows:

  • Timber and wood products.
  • Non-timber products including bush meat and other wildlife products, bamboo /rattan, essential oils, tannins, resins, gums, dyes, cork, honey, and medicinal plants among others.
  • Environmental Services, such as watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and clean air, micro-climate regulation/modification, soil fertility improvement, soil conservation/soil erosion control, recreational (aesthetic) value.
  • Job creation/ generation of employment Between 1990 and 2015, timber production has remained Ghana’s third biggest foreign exchange earner, and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) has been increasing in nominal terms over the years.

The contribution of forest to the national accounts is captured mainly from the formal sector consisting of regulated industries in timber and timber products. However, the informal subsector, which is characterized by  Small and Medium Forest Enterprises (SMFEs), broadly covering wood products, non-wood forest products and forest services are not catered for in the national accounts, although it provides additional and/or alternative income source to over 3 million Ghanaians.

There are 30,000 small-scale carpentry firms employing an estimated 200,000 people, and there are about 5,000 woodcarvers and 1500 canoe carvers. Chainsaw milling, although illegal, provides jobs for about 130 000

Ghanaians and livelihood support for about 650 000 people; 5000–6000 people are estimated to be employed in the bush-meat industry .An estimated 2 million people depend on forests for subsistence uses and traditional and customary lifestyles.

ECOTOURISM

KAKUM/ASSIN-ATTANDANSO-RESERVE

Kakum and the Assin Attandanso reserves constitute a twin National Park and Resource Reserve. It covers an area of about 350 km2 of the moist evergreen forest zone. The emergent trees are exceptionally high with some reaching 65 meters. The reserve has a varied wildlife with some 40 species of larger mammals, including elephants, bongo, red riverhog, seven primates and four squirrels. Bird life is also varied. About 200 species are known to occur in the reserve and include 5 hornbil species, frazer-eagle owl, African grey and Senegal parrots. To date, over 400 species butterflies have been recorded. The Kakum National Park is about the most developed and subscribed eco-tourism site among the wildlife conservation areas.

MOLE-NATIONAL-PARK

The Mole national park was established in 1958 and re-designated a National Park in 1971. It covers an area of 4,840 km2 of undulating terrain with steep scarps. The vegetation is pristine Guinea savanna with gallery forests along the rivers and streams. The Park has over 90 mammal species notably elephants, buffalo, roan, kob, hartebeest, waterbuck and 4 primate species. Lion, leopard and hyena also occur and over 300 bird species have been recorded.

DIGYA NATIONAL PARK

The Digya National Park was gazatted in 1971 and covers an area of 3,478 km2 of undulating terrain with sandstone inselbergs. It is situated on the western shores of the Volta Lake. Guinea savanna woodland predominates with gallery forest along the major lines. The Park supports at least six primate species including black and white colobus, elephants and a variety of antelopes. Manatee and clawless otter are also reported to be present in the Park.

BUI NATIONAL PARK

Bui National Park is the third largest Wildlife Protected Area in the country. It covers 1,821km² and is bisected by the Black Volta. It is located in a typical woodland savanna zone in the Brong Ahafo and Northern Region of Ghana. It has spectacular gallery forests along rivers courses. The reserve is particularly notable for its resident Hippo population in the Black Volta. Primates like the endangered black and white colobus monkey and a variety of antelopes and birds are also present.

THE BIA NATIONAL PARK AND BIA RESOURCE RESERVE

The Bia National Park and Bia Resource Reserve constitute a twin conservation area. It is found in the transitional zone between moist-evergreen and moist semi-deciduous forest types. It covers a total area of 305.62km² of the original National Park, which was later divided into. 277.92km² Bia Resource Reserve and the other 77.7km² represent the National Park.. It is the only the Biosphere Reserve in the country. Sixty-two species of mammals have been recorded. These include 10 primates amongst which are the Black and White Colobus, the Oilve Colobus, Red Colobus monkeys and chimpanzees. The forest elephant and the highly threatened bongo are present. Over 160 species of birds have been recorded; they include the internationally endangered white-breasted guinea fowl.

Nini-Suhien-National-Park&-Ankasa-Resources-Reserve

Nini Suhien National Park and Ankasa Resources Reserve are twin Wildlife Protected Areas that are located in the wet evergreen forest area of the Western Region of Ghana. These areas are so rich in biodiversity that about 300 species of plants have been recorded in a single hectare. The areas are largely unexplored but 43 mammal species including the bongo, forest elephant, 10 primate species including the endangered Dina monkey and the West African chimpanzee have been recorded. Bird fauna is also rich. The reserves offer very good example of the west evergreen forest to tourists. The reserve is not yet developed for large-scale tourism. For light tourism overnight facility is available at Elubo, which is, only 10 minutes drive away from the reserve. Tourists can only go on foot safaris. Accra to Elubo is by a 325km first class international road

KYABOBO NATIONAL PARK

Kyabobo National Park, a newly created Park in the Atwode traditional area, is located in the Nkwanta district of the Northern Volta Region. This park which covers an area of 359.8 km² is found in the Dry semi-deciduous forest zone and has both forest and savanna species of plants and animals. Its forests contain the nationally endangered endemic tree Talbotiella gendtii. Animals common to the Park include, Buffalo, Kob, Warthog, Aardvark and Baboon. Threatened species of animals, which with  adequate protection may  recover, include Lion,  Elephant, Bongo, Reedbuck and Hartebeest.Tourist infrastructures are vigorously being developed in Fazaso. Kyabobo will be an attraction from Fazao.

PROGRAMMES AND PROJECTS

The Forestry Commission is executing various Forestry Sector Programmes and Projects to enable the Commission to achieve its mandate of protection, development, management and regulation of forest and wildlife resources in the country. The current programmes and projects include the following:

ACHIMOTA-ECOLOGICAL-PARK-PROJECT

The Achimota Eco-Park concept provides a great opportunity for eco-tourism and environmentally-friendly, money-churning venture . This requires that the Achimota Forest is transform into a world-class eco-tourism enclave, from a traditional forest reserve into a world-class eco-tourism enclave. . The Forest is three-hundred and sixty (360) hectares with an arboretum, a zoo and spiritual retreat enclaves, which are privately sponsored. Presently, as an eco-tourism centre, the Achimota Forest attracts twenty thousand visitors and generates US$60,000 annually. However, the Achimota Forest, which has 3.6 kilometers with few species hardly hardly generate any keen interest among tourists. It is imperative that the forest be transformed into a world class eco-tourism enclave to increase the revenue generated.

BAMBOO AND RATTAN DEVELOPMENT

Bamboo and Rattan  Development as a national programme to complement the President’s initiative on Forest Plantation Development in Ghana. Subsequently, the Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP) Secretariat was established under the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines to coordinate the activities under the programme. Bamboo and rattan resources which together constitute the two largest non timber forests products in Ghana have been identified to be a suitable complement to timber usages such as building and construction, pulpwood, flooring, panel products and furniture. Bamboo has a short gestation period of five years and besides, it has a unique material with a range of socio-economic and environmental benefits. The specific objectives of BARADEP are to promote bamboo and rattan plantation and industry development as a complement to the wood industry so as to reduce the pressure on the natural forest for timber and increase income and employment opportunities for the rural poor.

GHANA’S COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

INVESTMENT INCENTIVES/ GUARANTEES

Ghana is a safe investment destination. Guarantee against expropriation of private investments is provided under the investment law and buttressed by the Constitution of Ghana. Some of the guarantees are detailed below:

i.       Free transferability of capital, profits, dividends and payment in respect of foreign loans contracted.

ii.       Insurance against non-commercial risks – Ghana is a signatory to the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) Convention.

iii.       Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) – to rationalize tax obligations of investors in order to prevent double taxation, DTAs have been signed and ratified with several countries

GHANA’S COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

1. Stable Political Environment

Ghana is a politically stable country. This has been recognized by the world’s famous leaders including US President Barack Obama and his predecessors and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessors who have all commended Ghana for the political stability in the country over the years.

2. Macro-economic Policies

The Government of Ghana has initiated a number of sound macroeconomic policies designed to accelerate the process of growth and transformation of the economy under competitive conditions. In the face of high crude oil prices and global credit crunch, Ghana’s economy is still relatively stable. Management and access to foreign exchange in Ghana continues to get better.

3. Foreign Ownership

In the on-going privatization program, hundred per cent (100%) foreign ownership is permitted.

4. Access to ECOWAS Market

Ghana is easily accessible to the markets of all the member states of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) with its population of approximately 250 million people.

5. Good Physical Infrastructure

Ghana possesses well developed seaports, airports and road networks capable of meeting the needs of businesses in the 21st century. There is an effort to upgrade the rail network to make it easy to get to the ports from inland. Telecommunication facilities in Ghana are excellent with more private service providers offering telephone, internet and other telecommunication services. Basic utilities such as water and electricity are readily available at relatively affordable rates.

6. Excellent Labour  Force

There is a large human resource base of both skilled and unskilled labour which can be sourced at relatively low rates. The minimum wage in Ghana is GH¢ 9.68.

7. Access to International Markets

Ghana has easy access to the USA and European Union Markets. The flight time to almost all European Union countries is about 6 hours and 9 hours to the USA.

8. Availability of Fund Sources

Ghana has a large number of fast developing financial institutions available to raise long-term capital at competitive rates. These institutions include banks, insurance and venture capital companies and a stock exchange market (Ghana Stock Exchange).

9. High Safety Standard

There are high standards of health and safety measures in the country.

10. Warm and Friendly People

Ghana is internationally acclaimed for her hospitality to her investors and foreigners as a whole.

11. High Quality  of Life

The quality of life of Ghanaians is fairly high.

12. Availability of Land

Ghana has a wide expanse of land that can be acquired with little difficulty through appropriate agencies and owners.

All investors interested in Ghana’s Forestry Sector are assured of a safe and secure investment environment which has the backing of a very encouraging legal and regulatory regime to protect their investments.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Timber products
  • Round timber for conversion to sawn timber, panel boards, pulp etc
  • Wood for renewable energy production
  • Wood for local crafts and businesses Non Timber forest products
  • Decorative foliage
  • Edible and medicinal plants and fungi
  • Venison and other meat/fish Tourism related services
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Organized recreational activities (site seeing, kayaking, wildlife viewing etc)
  • Organized events, free provision of health and well-being services Local community benefits
  • Informal access/recreation
  • Attractive backdrop
  • Educational opportunities
  • Employment
  • Environmental protection (flooding, erosion)
  • Biodiversity enhancement

Forestry is only about trees in so far as trees can meet the needs of peopleʼ (Westoby, 1967)