Civic Response has launched its maiden project, Civil Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring in Ghana (CSIFM-Ghana). The project which is being implemented by Civic Response through FAO FLEGT PROGRAMME (with funding from European Union, the Swedish International Co-operation Agency, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development) was launched under the theme, “working towards a transparent, credible and acceptable FLEGT license.”
The FLEGT-VPA process provides the vehicle for Ghana to improve upon the existing weak forest governance, which has been identified as one of the major underlying causes of illegal logging in the country. Article 16 of the Ghana-EU VPA document makes provisions for stakeholder involvement in the VPA implementation process. However, it fell short of clearly defining specific roles. Notwithstanding, CSOs strongly believe that the FLEGT-VPA document is very detailed and addresses most of the governance challenges of the forestry sector.
Access to timely and credible information has hindered effective CSO monitoring of FLEGT-VPA processes in Ghana. Despite recurrent statements by the Government about its willingness to make information available to stakeholders, lack of funds and a system to make information easily accessible to stakeholders has stalled this commitment.
The project is aimed at tackling these problems through the use of innovation and technology to make information already available in the GWTS accessible to all stakeholders. The project also seeks to entrench Civil Society participation in VPA implementation by recruiting, training and equipping CSOs and other non-state actors in TVD
legality verification standards to participate in TVD audits as observers.
Speaking at the Project launch, the Director of Timber Validation Department at the Forestry Commission, Mr. Chris Beeko expressed optimism that the project would help bridge the gap between state policies on logging and their implementation. He said this will in effect help tackle illegal logging in the country.