Timber has been an important commodity that has fetched Ghana millions of dollars through export.
Even though timber export gives the country substantial foreign exchange, reports indicate that Ghana has equally lost over 20 million hectares of forest to deforestation.
In Ghana, an extensive forest estate, consisting of 1.63 million hectares of forest reserves, was established in the 1920s in the high forest zone.
Source: Ghana Statistical Service
The forest estate has been subjected to various impacts and pressures including: population and economic growth, both of which fuel higher domestic wood consumption; the demand for timber to satisfy the export markets; coupled with a high rate of deforestation and forest degradation.
The forestry and timber industry play an important role in the socioeconomic development of Ghana through timber products export.
According to available statistics, the annual rate of deforestation in Ghana is 2 percent.
In all this, the government of Ghana has taken measures to reverse the situation by establishing the Ghana National Plantation Project, which looks to plant 20,000 hectares every year.
According to the Ghana Forestry Commission, export of timber and other forest products in 2000 accounted for 11 percent of Ghana’s export earnings and 6 percent of the GDP.
The formal sector is responsible for providing livelihood to over 100,000 people, while many more earn some form of income from the forests.
Furthermore, about 2 million people depend on Ghana’s forests for customary and traditional lifestyles, such as collecting wood for fuel, wood carving, producing rattan goods and carving canoes.
Chainsaw lumbering is illegal in Ghana.
In 2010, the Ministry of Forestry reported a 5.4 percent fall in timber export. According to the Timber Industry Development Division, while there was a decline in the export, the country, however, saw an increase in revenue for the same period.
In 2010, Ghana earned 137.9 million Euros through timber export, compared to 128.2 million Euros in 2009.
Most of Ghana’s timber is exported to the EU, and some of the products in demand include sliced veneer, plywood, rotary veneer and kiln dried lumber.
Other timber exports include curl veneer, boules, furniture parts and air dried lumber.
Ghana’s total export volume to the EU is around 45.04 percent, with the key markets being the UK, The Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Germany and France.
The total export volume to the United States is 9.01 percent.
The US is the biggest market for the exports of rotary veneers and lumber.
In addition, Ghana exports timber and wood products to its neighbors, namely Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger and Mali.
Countries such as Thailand, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and India also add to Ghana’s foreign exchange reserves, with India offering the largest export market for teak lumber.