Ghanian forestry experts hold talks

A group of forestry experts from the African nation of Ghana last week benefited from a public seminar on chainsaw milling among other aspects of Guyana’s forest sector.

The seven member group was particularly interested in the manner in which small and medium scale loggers, as well as community based forestry enterprises use chainsaw milling technology and related practices to ply their trade.

The team which included Alexander Boadu, forestry expert of the Forestry Com-mission (FC), Ghana; Project analyst Dr Richard Gyimah and James McKeown Parker, an expert in chainsaw milling in Ghana shared their experiences on the sector in the African country.

They said they were interested in the Guyana Forestry Commission’s (GFC) forest management systems and its monitoring practices.

Chainsaw milling practices are prevalent in Ghana and according to the members of the group, it has sustained the livelihoods of thousands of people there but the practice remains illegal. The forestry stakeholders in that nation believe that the actual ban on the practice is not in the best interest of all stakeholders and that it should be reviewed.

According to the GFC, Guyana has been managing small loggers for many years, and the emergence of chainsaw milling was accepted as another technological option for small loggers who used axes and pit saws to harvest timber. However, the practice expanded to chainsaw usage and emerged a pivotal source for income for rural forest-based communities around Guyana, such as Ituni and Kwakwani where the practice is more prevalent.

Tropenbos International has collaborated with the Guyana and Ghana forestry bodies to develop the project entitled, ‘Developing alternatives for illegal chainsaw milling in Ghana and Guyana’.
On Friday evening, members of the Ghanaian team spoke of their experiences while on the week-long trip to these shores. The group interacted with chainsaw milling experts here as well as actual players in the field, mainly from Ituni and Kwakwani.

According to Parker, the practices account for some 80% of the African nation’s forestry sector produce and chainsaw milling is highly in demand in that country. He said that the GFC and other experts here were able to illustrate to him and members of the team, the practice of the trade and the relevant forestry regulations which govern the trade. Parker said the group will be taking back the knowledge gained and will make recommendations and suggestions to the authorities in their home country to further regulate and open up the sector.

Parker noted that Guyana’s forestry regulatory bodies control large volumes of forest and according to him, given the various commitments the country has made to the international community as regards conservation, managing the forest resources will be a difficult but manageable task.

Chainsaw milling (a pro-cess which involves the use of guiding bars in the cutting of logs) can be defined as the conversion of logs at stump into lumber using the chainsaw. It has emerged as a major component of the timber industry in Guyana and the activities of this sub-sector provided an estimated 40 per cent of the fees received by the Guyana Forestry commission (GFC).

Chain-sawn lumber can supply domestic markets with timber more cheaply than sawmilled lumber because of the relatively high production costs of the large forest concessions. The wood cutting technique is carried out by operators who are highly skilled but poorly trained and the job description is usually given as strenuous and dangerous.

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