When the multistakeholder dialogue began, lumber traders and others in the domestic timber market formed a union called DOLTA, the Domestic Lumber Trade Association. DOLTA engaged with the VPA process and the multistakeholder dialogue on chainsaw milling to press for reforms that would decriminalise its members.
Today the union is 25,000-strong. It advocates for widespread adoption of the proposal that emerged from the multistakeholder dialogue, and builds the capacity of its members to benefit from the proposed changes. The multistakeholder dialogue’s proposal has the backing of Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and influenced the development of Ghana’s revised Forest and Wildlife Policy of 2012.
James Parker, who leads the project in Ghana for Tropenbos International, urges the government to go further and implement the policy proposal and action plan. This, he says, could help Ghana meet the terms of the VPA for domestic markets and secure tens of millions of euros in taxes and fees to reinvest in the forestry sector.
The project demonstrates the potential of VPA processes to identify and develop innovative policy options, although whether or not artisanal milling will solve illegality remains to be seen. So far, as part of its efforts to implement the project’s recommendations, Ghana has developed a public procurement policy. This requires timber products for government projects to be sourced from certified legal sources on the domestic market. It should create new incentives for former chainsaw loggers to put down their chainsaws and join the legal market.