When we talk about sustainable development, what exactly do we mean? In a nutshell, sustainable development is development that will be able to manage current needs without ruining things for future generations. Sustainability is about achieving the perfect balance of social well-being and protection, care for the environment and economic growth.
Here at ThomTax we manage our timber according to the Development Goals set out by the United Nations which aim to achieve a sustainable future by thinking about issues such as environmental degradation, climate, inequality and poverty as well as prosperity for all stakeholders. We work in conjunction with Ghana’s forestry commission to manage our forests according to their reforestation plans. They give us a licence to manage an area of forest and then they monitor our work to ensure are keeping within their agreed plans for reforestation. We work according to Ghana’s 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy which relates to the protection of the environment and using Ghana’s forests and wildlife sustainably. It makes clear that companies should involve local people in the management of their own natural resources so that they could also benefit from those resources and is part of a donor funded development program, referred to as the Natural Resource Management Programme (NRMP.)
It is worth noting too that with such requirements come a number of complicated issues. Companies must balance the need to respect the local forest community and the access they have to the forest with keeping the forest safe from harm. Human activity is, for example, one of the main causes of forest fires in the dry season as the local forest community take advantage of their traditional hunting and gathering rights and light fires for cooking, boiling water or even to clear land. Consequently, commercial timber companies interested in sustainable development have to work closely with farmers and hunters to ensure this doesn’t cause massive damage. Even the smallest of sparks from an ill placed fire can end up causing devastation to hundreds of hectares of forest. That is why we not only work closely with the local community, but also invest heavily in setting up fire rides which we regularly maintain. These internal and external rides are worthwhile investments as they have been proven to stop a full forest fire in its tracks. And as well as this we have put a great deal of time and money into teaching the local community about fire prevention and fire management.
For the local forest community in Ghana, the forest is inextricably linked to everything from food and medicine to clothes and shelter and now, with our help, jobs and education. We want to maintain all the best bits of the forest community and help the forest and the people adapt and survive in the 21st century. By providing good jobs and training and engaging the community in everything we do, we believe that is exactly what we are doing, whilst also providing jobs in the UK and a healthy return for our investors. Here’s what Andrew Bridgen MP has to say about plantations in Ghana working with UK businesses:
“As part of our Paris Agreement, the UK has the right to use Ghana for mitigation of our own carbon reduction commitments. The speed of the tree growth, and value of the timber makes total sense. This is the product of a British based company. So, when the timber is sold, even though it is grown in Ghana, the UK Government is able to Tax the sales. It is fighting climate change in a profitable way. “
He goes on to note that:
“There has been a lot of debate in recent years around the use, and accountability of the Aid budget. Ghana, as a Nation, is clearly on record asking for Trade not Aid. This project certainly delivers on that: