Forestry Commission and Malaysia Company develop mobile application to identify wood species

The Forestry Commission in collaboration with a Malaysia Artificial Intelligence Company has developed a mobile application for the identification of wood species in Ghana.

Code-named Xylorix Pocket Wood App, the application has currently identified about 105 wood species.

“It is worth noting that this mobile application is the first of its kind in the whole of Africa,” Chief Executive John Allotey, said in a speech read on his behalf at a meeting with the media.

The two Deputy Chief Executives, Mr Nyadia Sulemana Nelson and Mr Iddrisu Musah spoke on behalf of the CE.

He said to regulate and enforce legal timber trade across the northern frontiers of Ghana, the Commission through Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) has constructed three border offices in the Upper West and Upper East Regions, namely Hamile, Naamo and Zebila.

On Climate Change and Related Activities, the CEO said the Ghana Shea Landscape Emission Reductions Project (GSLERP), developed by the Commission and UNDP in collaboration with Global Shea Alliance that has received approval from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), is a component of the Ghana REDD+ strategy.

It has a total budget of $54.5 million with $30.1 million GCF grant funding and $24.4 million co-financing from the Government of Ghana and the Private Sector.

The project seeks to promote sustainable approaches to land use, forest conservation, and enhance community-based resource management to stem the ongoing forest degradation and deforestation from illegal logging, charcoal production, agricultural expansion and illegal mining that threaten the forests and shea production system.

He said the Commission had moved closer to completing its readiness to issue the FLEGT licenses with the timber leases and permits making their way to Cabinet as part of the final steps towards conversion into Timber Utilisation Contracts.

“We are confident that Ghana will soon be ready to issue FLEGT licensed timber into the European Union, as well as legally sourced timber with sustainable qualities to the other markets,” he said.

Mr Allotey said the Commission facilitated the export of 279,532 wild animals and 2,114,184 m³ CITES-listed plants for the past five years valued at $185 million. As at September, the export of wildlife facilitated was valued at $2 million.

The Commission also facilitated trade for five companies and eight Research Institutions. Specimen mostly traded in are live animals and CITES-listed plant species. Animal species include reptiles, pythons, other snakes, tortoises and lizards as well as amphibians (mostly frogs), Aves (birds), insects, a few mammals and other species.

Plant Species exported include Pterocarpus erinaceus, Cedrella odorata, Euphorbia trigona and Euphorbia poisonii.

He said the Wildlife Bill has received Cabinet approval and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had prepared a memo, which was forwarded to Parliament for their consideration and necessary action.

As at the end of September 2021, the Commission had facilitated the export of a total wood volume of 224,599 m3 which resulted in a value of €103 million showing significant increments compared with the same period last year.

Mr Chairman, Ghana cannot fully meet the Ghana Legality Assurance System (GhLAS) under the VPA without adequately addressing the supply of illegal timber to the domestic market.

In this regard, the Commission continues to expand the implementation of the Domestic Timber Trade Network (DoTTNet) process to effectively regulate and promote trade in legal timber on the domestic market.

In 2022, the Commission plans to launch the 2021-2025 Corporate Strategic Plan, strengthen institutional and regulatory frameworks for sustainable forest and wildlife resources management and enhance law enforcement within forest reserves and wildlife protected areas.

There are plans also to develop a legal framework for forest plantation development to create a secure enabling environment that could catalyse investment of the much-needed private funds for forest plantation establishment in Ghana.

Also, to review the Commission’s operational procedures and guidelines governing plantation timber harvesting to enable it to efficiently handle the huge volumes that will be extracted from these plantations and initiate processes towards the drafting and promulgation of the Forest Plantations Act.

The Commission will also undertake a nationwide inventory of forest plantations to provide comprehensive information on the growth rate, survival, current and projected yield, and carbon sequestration of the established forest plantations.

Source: GNA

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