Gould in Ghana

 

Our Environment Officer, Simon Jeffreys, last seen on these pages in the office shrubbery, was on his fortnightly visit to the office today, wearing a colourful Ghanaian shirt and a beard. What had he been up to this time?

Simon acts as our consultant on things environmental, and works with an FSC® Certification Body (Rainforest Alliance), carrying out audits in forest reserves and sawmilling companies in Ghana which are certified to the FSC Controlled Wood Forest Management and Chain of Custody Standards.

The purpose of his latest visit to the Ghanaian district of Sefwi Wiawso was a 5 day surveillance audit, which involved work to demonstrate compliance with legality in harvesting, processing and traceability of the wood and the associated products (sawn wood, laminated and finger jointed products and veneer). Holding a Controlled Wood certificate allows the material to be sold with an FSC claim, which facilitates the requirements of the EU Timber Regulations for customers.

With a chain of travel connections in tight succession, the journey to Ghana had to be a smooth run operation. Which failed at step 1. The BA systems crashed at Heathrow which meant his flight to Accra was cancelled 10 minutes before departure. With no flight information available from BA and no senior BA management visible to explain the situation, a lesson in the importance of customer communication was experienced. Speaking of such - is your Business Continuity Plan up to date and ready for use?!

After trying to recover his hold luggage for over an hour from an obscurely located, unmarked door and telephone in Terminal 3 (akin to Platform 9 3/4 in Harry Potter) and seeing the rabble of passengers gradually get increasingly agitated and rude to any staff who appeared periodically, it was time for Plan B... Abandon all hold luggage and seek alternative flights.

An overnight Emirates flight to Dubai and then another to Accra was available overnight, with the flying time doubled and distance travelled increased from 3173 miles to 7332 miles (not ideal for anyone, but ironic when travelling for an environmental job!) Plan B meant it was just possible to catch a domestic flight from Accra to Kumasi, followed by 4 hours in a pick-up to Sefwi Wiawso, arriving late on Sunday evening.

   

Travelling with just the clothes you are wearing and no toiletries makes life simpler, but Sefwi is not really a retail destination to seek out replacement items. Having said that, he did pick up his fetching tailored shirt there, which made it safely back to the UK, unlike his luggage...

Timber generates around 6% of Ghana's GDP from around 2.6 million hectares of productive forest. However, forestry is under significant pressure from agricultural expansion, illegal mining and extensive illegal felling with an estimated 70% of timber sold as illegal. Since the 1990's deforestation has reduced overall forest cover by at least a third. Ghana is committed to a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU under the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade action plan. Certification work supports this initiative.