Implications of international timber certification for Ghanaian timber exports and sustainable forest management
Commercial logging has attracted the concern of both governmental and non-governmental organizations because of its significant role in deforestation. The disappointing performance of most of the national initiatives and multilateral agreements to encourage sustainable timber production and trade, and the current stalemate of the process towards a Global Forestry Treaty are some of the reasons why non-governmental organizations have presented international timber certification as an alternative policy instrument.
International timber certification is a voluntary, market-based approach with the dual objectives of improved sustainable forest management (SFM) and market access for certified timber products. However, to date, no country has demonstrated that timber certification has improved its forest management and provided a competitive advantage to its timber products in “green” markets. For this reason, the major objective of the dissertation is to provide an empirically based analysis of the effectiveness of international timber certification systems in improving SFM in Ghana and to assess the degree of improved market access for Ghanaian certified timber products in Europe, Asia, and North America.
The dissertation used both primary and secondary sources of data. Secondary sources included the review of journals, documents, time series data, and timber market information. Primary sources of data included the use of a questionnaire survey based on the contingent valuation method, ecological field observations, formal and informal interviews. The dissertation also developed an econometric timber market model for Ghana and used it to analyze and forecast the effects of macroeconomic conditions, payment of “green” premiums, incremental costs of certification, and efficient processing technology on the demand and supply of Ghanaian certified timber products.
The results of the analysis indicate that, timber certification could contribute to SFM in Ghana by improving the implementation of the regulatory system; enforcement of forestry and concession regulations; improved processing efficiency; institutional collaboration and participation in forest management; tracking and monitoring of forest products, documentation of forest-related activities, higher recovery of forest derived revenue and through the provision of economic incentives for the best practices in timber production and SFM. The results also indicate that timber certification could improve market access for Ghanaian timber products if used as a market strategy to differentiate products, diversify market segments, improve product quality, promote timber exports, and improve the pricing and valuation of forestry products.
The dissertation also demonstrated that, to maximize these benefits, there should be complimentary relationships between governmental regulatory measures for SFM and the voluntary certification system. There should also be a differentiated and developed market with effective promotional campaigns for certified timber products, strong economic performance in major “green” markets of timber importing nations, and the consumers must be willing to pay a higher premium for certified timber products.
0768: Environmental science
0616: International law
0616: International relations