Ghana has a land area of 238,500km2 made up of two (2) broad ecological zones – the High Forest Zone covering much of a third of the southern part of the country (34%)and the Savannah Zone, covering two thirds of the considerably drier Northern Ghana (66%). The agriculture sector which includes wood and forestry is the largest contributor to GDP whilst forestry alone contributes an estimated 4%.
The key government institutions in the sector are:
- Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines (MLFM): responsible for policy direction and monitoring of programmes towards achieving national goals.
- Forestry Commission (FC): responsible for advising the sector Minister on policies to regulate the management and utilization of forest and wildlife resources.
- Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG): responsible for undertaking research and development activities towards solving problems relating to the forestry sector.
The private institutions or entities consist of land owners, communities, clans and individuals on whose behalf the government manages the forest and wildlife resources. Others are the logging companies that operate timber concessions to supply raw materials to sawmill and other wood processing companies that convert the timber into secondary products mainly for the export markets.
Economic Importance of the Forestry Sector.
The formal forestry sector employs about 120,000 Ghanaians with employment predominantly in log processing industry. The timber industry is the fourth largest foreign exchange earner after minerals, cocoa and oil exports. Primary wood and processed products accounts for 89% and 11% of timber exports respectively.
The formal forestry sector consisting of around 200 timber processing mills is export oriented. For example, the total exports of timber products in September 2012 amounted to€7,536,507.29 representing about 13% decrease from €8,637,092.59 earned from exports in August 2012. Additionally, only around 15% of the domestic market was supplied by the formal sector.
The informal forestry sector, mainly chain saw milling is almost equal in size to the formal sector in terms of employment and production and also provides the bulk of the supply (85%) for the domestic market, with estimated volume of around 0.5 million m3 and market value of around GH¢ 280 million. It also provides employment for around 130,000 people and livelihood for 650,000 people and is the source of considerable revenue to mostly unban financiers of their operations (Marfo, 2010).
The wood processing sector of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is a sector that includes all industries that are into timber production, wood work factories and all industries that make use of value addition to forestry and wood products. The sector provides great support for these industries by ensuring that they are able to carry out business smoothly.