Promoting legal tropical timber trade – moving the focus to protect overused species in Ghana

Project dates: 2020-2021

Funder/s: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Collaborators/s: The Forestry Commission of Ghana, The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (CSIR-FORIG)

Initiative type/s: Tool, Advocacy

The Problem

There are more than 50,000 species of timber in the world, but only a small proportion of these are used commercially. Ghana has nearly 90 species that are regularly exploited and traded as timber. Lesser-known and lesser-used species can have similar and even better performance for some specific end-uses; they can also have a more distinctive and unique appearance compared to more popular ones. Using these species is not only a good business decision but also has the potential to improve livelihoods and protect biodiversity.

BVRio’s solution

Originally planned as a trade show, building on the success of BVRio’s Responsible Timber Trade fair in Ghana in 2018 and Good Wood Expo in Jakarta in 2019, the project was changed significantly due to the pandemic into a series of videos, guides and online events, but it was possible to hold an in person workshop at the end of 2020.

Working in partnership with the Forestry Commission of Ghana and The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, the project involved;

  • The production of a guide in English and Chinese showcasing the qualities of 20 Lesser-Known Timber Species (LKTS)
  • The production and distribution of a video version of the guide
  • The production of five species-specific promotional videos, distributed to all stakeholders in the sector to use as part of their promotional activities
  • The creation and distribution of a set of companion posters
  • A social media campaign coordinated across all partner channels
  • Two webinars which launched the guide and discussed benefits of LKTS that targeted UK, EU, USA, and China buyers, which were both attended by timber companies.
  • As the pandemic restrictions relaxed in Ghana, it was also possible to add an in-person workshops to the outputs.


While it is not possible to ascertain the increase in sales of LKTS by individual timber suppliers in Ghana, the feedback from those present at the training workshop was positive. The concluding remarks of the Associations involved noted that, “the initiative to promote lesser used/known timber species on the international market is timely and will go a long way to broaden the species and products produced and marketed and revenue.” They also praised the initiative for “the needed awareness and necessary capacity to promote the selected lesser used/known timber species on the local and international markets on their own.”

22 participants from timber producers and trade associations attended the in-person workshop held in November 2020, along with eight representatives from government institutions and two media organisations.

The majority of the materials created were provided as tools to timber sellers, and so their actual usage is only anecdotal, however we can see their impact via BVRio’s own channels as they continue to be used to promote legal timber trading in general.

75 people from timber companies, NGOs, trade federations and government agencies attended the webinars launching the products and the English language webinar has now been viewed a further 133 times.

The main promotional video has been viewed over 300 times, and the individual species guides over 260 times.

Legacy and Future

Supporting the legal and sustainable timber trade continues to be a strategic focus for BVRio. We continue to advocate for LKTS and share the materials created as part of this project through all of BVRio’s communications channels.

Our relationships and partnerships with tropical timber producing countries and suite of trade tools provides the ideal foundation to continue this work in Ghana and in other countries, and repeat the previous success of campaigns.

Specifically BVRio is looking to promote the trade of sustainable and legal timber. Promoting a variety of timber species helps companies to diversify their sources and have a sustainable impact, avoiding the extinction of species caused by overharvesting. Building on previous work, BVRio is looking to take a step further and create sustainable connections between international buyers and LKTS producers in Ghana and other tropical countries.

SDG alignment






More on this topic

Publications – Lesser-known & Lesser-used timber species – Utilising Ghana’s sustainable timber resources

VideosView YouTube playlist for more videos