From Francis Owusu-Ansah .
The Dormaa Central Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Iddrissa Ouattara, has appealed to the people on the forests fringes communities to show ownership of these forests by working together with the state to protect them.
He said it was in the interest of everybody that the forest and its resources are sustainably managed to protect biodiversity.
Mr. Ouattara said: “All should accept to cooperate and give strong support to the enforcement of laws and the implementation of programmes designed to promote their sustainable management,” adding that the unrestrained activities of illegal chainsaw operators could not continue.
Mr. Ouattara was speaking to the press after a tour of the “Mpanso Forest Reserve” in the municipality to assess the level of destruction through illegal logging.
The assessment tour comes on the back of the rise in illegal extraction of timber in the municipality.
The MCE was accompanied by officials of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission (FC).
Mr. Ouattara warned that the assembly would war against those engaged in the activity, stressing that the security agencies would relentlessly go after them.
According to the MCE, the assembly and its security partners are determined to go to every length to stop the recklessness and impunity in the area.
Mr. Ouattara noted that there is the need for Ghana’s rich cultural practices and laws for protecting the environment be enforced.
He made reference to recent extreme weather conditions – erratic rainfall pattern that is affecting agricultural productivity, and the consequences of the continued degradation of the environment.
There have been reports that illegal chainsaw operators have invaded the Desiri Forest Reserve in the Asutifi South District, cutting down trees for lumber.
The activities of the illegal operators, who are said to be operating both day and midnight, are depleting the forest.
The forest is said to be one of the important national reserves in the region, sharing boundaries with the Ashanti and Western regions.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area, Robert Mensah Dwomoh, is said to have recently accused the Forestry Commission, some opinion leaders, as well as politicians, of turning a blind eye to the development.
Speaking on the issue at an Assembly meeting in the district, Mr Dwomoh lamented that people who are paid to ensure that the forest reserve is protected, including some influential chiefs, are deep rooted in the criminal activities.
“Unpatriotic Ghanaians, including the traditional authorities, politicians and even the very people who are paid to protect the forest, have all contributed to the rapid degradation of the reserves,” he lamented.
He has, therefore, appealed to individuals and the traditional authorities to help the District Assembly curb the situation.
The DCE, who was clearly not happy with the fast depletion of the forest reserve, called on National Security and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to help the district fight the activities of illegal chainsaw operators.
Some unconfirmed reports say most of the illegal operators are from neighbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, and have pitched camps in wooden structures within the forest reserves.
In a related development, a group calling itself Youth for Development Association (YDA) of Yamfo in the Tano North District, recently accused he authorities in the region for failing to curb illegal logging and galamsey operations in the area.
In a petition, the group said the Bosomkese Forest Reserve at Yamfo, which has been preserved for so many years, has been invaded by some illegal loggers and galamsey operators.
However, speaking to The Chronicle yesterday, the Chairman of the association, Mr. Michael Boakye Ntori, said there has been an improvement in the area.
“After our petition, the forestry and some agencies came to the area, and we have had some discussions on the way forward,” he said.
He, however, called for regular operations by the authorities to completely flush out the illegal activities in the forests.
As at close of February 2016, eleven forest reserves in the Brong-Ahafo Region were either completely or partly burnt.
In the Sunyani Forest District alone, two forest reserves, covering more than 1,000 hectares, were consumed by ravaging fires. It includes portions of the Yaya Forest Reserve at Buoku.
The 700-acre Tain II Forest Reserve (teak plantation) developed through a collaboration between a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Form Ghana, and the Forestry Commission, was also burnt recently.
In the Goaso Forest District, the Aboniyere and Bonsam Bepo forests were completely burnt, while patches of the Ayum and Subim reserves were also consumed by fire.
Also affected were parts of the Bosomoa and Bunu reserves in the Kintampo Forest District and the Pamu Forest Reserve in the Dormaa Forest District.
There are 21 forest reserves, with a total perimeter of 1,341 kilometres, in the Brong-Ahafo Region.