Last updated: 07 March 2020



Forestry and legality

Region Sub-Saharan Africa (2019) UNSD
FLEGT status VPA implementing (2019) FLEGT Facility
Forest area 9.3 million ha (2015) FAO
Deforestation rate -0.03 million ha/year (2010-2015) FAO
Planted area 0.325 million ha (2015) FAO
Tree cover loss 1.09 million ha (2001-2018) Global Forest Watch
Tree cover loss (%) 16 % (2001-2018) Global Forest Watch
Tree cover gain 135 kha (2001-2012) Global Forest Watch
FSC certified area 12,430 ha (December 2019) FSC
PEFC certified area 0 ha (December 2019) PEFC
Double certified area (FSC & PEFC) 0 ha (Mid-2019) FSC & PEFC

VPA status of Ghana

  • Ghana is widely expected to be the second VPA country, after Indonesia, to issue FLEGT licences.

  • Ghana and the EU announced the launch of the Final Joint Assessment of Ghana’s Timber Legality Assurance System in January 2019.

  • Consultants carrying out the assessment have met with Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and representatives of other government divisions involved with the Ghanaian Legality Assurance System (GhLAS).

  • The GhLas covers all national timber production and exports, of which the EU accounted for 11% in 2018, with around three quarters destined for Asia and the Far East.

  • While the direction of trade has changed, Ghana has carried forward the FLEGT commitment as the initiative aligns well with Ghana’s own forest policy to ensure all logging is sustainable and there is equitable sharing of benefits from forest use.

  • Although licences have yet to be implemented, the assurance system is now fully operational which applies to all companies engaged in the sector.

  • The GhLas ensures universal application of forest management prescriptions, which cover a wide range of environmental and social aspects as well as ensuring sustained timber yield and ensures these are transparent and measurable.

  • The GhLas tracking system provides for near real time reconciliation of data gathered using handheld devices in the field. Discrepancies, for example between the volume of logs harvested and those transported, which in the past would have only become apparent months later, are now identified within hours.

  • There is also a mechanism to exercise control at point of export of all wood products to ensure only compliant consignments enter the global market.

  • Data is gathered and made available on the results of field audits and this reveals that, as awareness of the level and intensity of scrutiny has increased amongst frontline staff and private operators, the number of non-compliances is falling.

  • Another key outcome of the VPA is that civil society is now closely engaged both in the process of monitoring compliance and multi-stakeholder deliberations have become the accepted approach to policy implementation.

  • The Ghana Forestry Commission’s (FC) Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) signed an MOU in March 2019 on funding for the project ‘Enhancing Stakeholders interest in the Domestic Timber Trade Network (DOTTNET) Process to assess demand and supply of legal timber in the Ghanaian domestic market.

  • The project is part of the FC’s strategy to ensure wider international recognition and acceptance of Ghana’s VPA and ultimately its resulting FLEGT licensed timber and wood products.

  • This, it says, requires a ‘well-structured, regulated domestic market’, which will also ‘propel development and growth of the timber industry’.

  • The DOTTNET process will bring together players across the domestic market supply chain, including loggers, sawmills and sellers to promote trade in legal timber, backed by a platform providing traceability of timber sources.

  • The preparation phase will examine trade access to legal material and communication to the market on the GhLAS.

Forest resources in Ghana

  • According to FAO FRA, 9.34 million hectares of Ghana’s total land area of 23.9 million hectares were forest in 2015. Between 1990 and 2015, the area of primary forest in Ghana was stable at 395,000 hectares, the area of “other naturally regenerated forest” increased from 8.18 million hectares to 8.62 million hectares, and the area of planted forest increased from 50,000 hectares to 325,000 hectares.

  • Around 8 million hectares of the land located in southern Ghana are categorized as high-forest zone that comprises several forest types: wet evergreen, moist semi-deciduous (southeast & northwest), dry semi- deciduous (inner zone), dry semi-deciduous fire zone, upland evergreen, southern marginal and southern outlier.

  • The semi-deciduous and evergreen forests have traditionally constituted the main timber-producing areas. The main species in the semi-deciduous forests are: Triplochiton scleroxylon (wawa), Mansonia altissima (mansonia), Nesogordonia papaverifera (danta) and Khaya ivorensis (mahogany) while in the evergreen forests the main species are Guarea cedrata (guarea), Tieghemella heckelii (makore), Tarrietia utilis (niangon) and Uapaca spp. (assam).

  • While the total area classified as forest increased in Ghana between 1990 and 2015, there was a significant decline in forest condition during this period. Significant portions of the Timber Production Areas were further degraded and officially designated as “Convalescence Areas”, while others were converted to plantations (Conversion Areas) by government and the private sector.

  • A rising proportion of timber supply in Ghana is expected to derive from plantations in the future. A government review in February-March 2012 identified 3.1 million hectares of potential lands suitable for forest plantation establishment including 135,000 hectares in reserves within the high-forest zone, 283,000 hectares in reserves in the savannah region, and 2.68 million hectares in off-reserve areas.



Economic and industrial status

GDP 65.6 billion USD (2018) World Bank
Population 29.8 million (2018) World Bank
Income group Lower middle income (2019) World Bank
Ease of Doing Business (EDB) Rank 118 / 190 (2019) World Bank
Global Competitiveness Index Rank 111 / 141 (2019) World Economic Forum
Liner Shipping Connectivity Index 19.8 (maximum value in 2004 = 100) (2019) World Bank

Timber industry competitiveness of Ghana

  • A World Bank report published in December 2019 on “Realizing Ghana’s Potential for Economic Diversification to Create More, Betters jobs” highlights that Ghana’s productivity levels are relatively high in the African context, although still lagging most other lower-middle and middle-income countries.

  • According to Ghana government data, economic growth in the country has rebounded strongly from 3.4% in 2016 to an average of over 7% in 2017 and 2018.

  • Following a period of decline between 2013 and 2016, Ghana’s performance against international competitiveness indices improved in 2017 and 2018.

  • Ghana slipped sharply down the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index from 67th in 2013 to 120th in 2017 but recovered slightly to rank 114th in 2018. Ghana’s ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness index also improved slightly from 114th in 2017 to 106th in 2018.

  • On the Connectivity Index, in 2018 Ghana (75th) remained below RoC (64th) and Cameroon (63rd) but was ahead of Côte d’Ivoire (77th) and Gabon (89th).

  • While Ghana’s overall economic performance improved in 2017 and 2018, the situation in the forestry and timber sector is less positive.

  • The Ghana Timber Millers’ Organisation reported in April 2018 that 96 timber companies had shut down in the past 15 years, thereby reducing employment in the wood processing sector by 75,000 to about 20,000.

  • The 2018 report by the IMM Ghana correspondent indicates industry contraction is linked, among other things, to declining availability of commercially valued wood species, which entails further competitive disadvantages such as underutilisation of plant capacity and increased costs of sourcing materials over long distances.

  • In 2018, five large companies dominated the wood processing and export business in Ghana. Three of these companies are diversified in their product range and have invested in new technologies such as lamination, finger jointing and moulding. One of these companies reduced production and exports considerably in 2018, running only its plywood operations, due to financial difficulties. Another company that had operated from two sites moved machinery to consolidate production on one site closer to its forest resource.

  • Newly emerging and small to medium-sized companies are not focused on investment in technology or product innovation. Instead, they install thin-blade mobile sawmills and are located around forest fringes and in remote communities. There are no reliable data sources on the number of such companies active in Ghana.

Trade Overview

Trade Overview


  • According to the ITTO Biennial Review, Ghana log production was 2.45 million m3 in 2018, the same as the previous year but down from 2.65 million m3 in 2016.

  • The ITTO Biennial Review reports 483,000 m3 of log exports by Ghana in 2018, a rise from 446,000 m3 in 2017 but less than 660,000 m3 in 2016.

  • Ghana’s annual production of sawnwood, plywood and veneer is assessed by ITTO to have been flat between 2015 and 2018, respectively at 534,000 m3, 262,000 m3, and 167,000 m3.

  • Ghana’s exports of sawnwood are estimated by ITTO to have been 98,000 m3 in 2018, up from 89,000 m3 in 2017, wile exports of veneer were 11,000 m3, down from 16,000 m3 the previous year, and exports of plywood were 24,000 m3, the same as the previous year.

  • Ghana’s imports of primary wood products are negligible, estimated by ITTO to have comprised 13,000 m3 of logs, 3,000 m3 of sawnwood, and 16,000 m3 of veneer in 2018.

Ghana’s imports and exports of timber products in the latest 12 months (USD value from January 2019 to December 2019)

NOTE: Mirror data from STIX, drawing on trade data reported by Ghana’s main trading partners, is used. Read more about the data in ‘Data Sources and Issues’.
Hover over the chart to see the value.

Imports (272.58 Million USD) Exports (165.38 Million USD)
Region Country Product Product Country Region

Ghana’s production, imports, exports and domestic consumption of primary wood products in 2018

(data source: ITTO) Hover over the chart to see the value.

Trend in production, imports, exports and domestic consumption of primary wood products (logs, sawnwood, plywood, and veneer) in Ghana

(data source: ITTO)