GNA – The Goaso and Bechem District Offices of the Forestry Services Division (FSD) in Brong-Ahafo have upped measures to clamp down on activities of illegal loggers, to preserve forest reserves in the region.
This comes amid growing depletion of the Bosomkese, Aparapi, Ayom, Abonsare, and the Bonsam-Bepo Reserves.
Officials of the FSD said radical approach was required to deal with disturbing situation.
A Joint Military and Rapid Response Team set up by the Division and which has been working in collaboration with forest guards, last year, seized more than 600 chainsaw machines, together with wood misers, motorbikes and table saw motors.
Additionally, the team impounded several trucks loaded with illegal lumber in the forest fringe communities of Kasapin, Tipokrom, Asumura, Gambia, Bomaa, Yamfo, and others.
This came to light when Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission (FC) embarked on a two-day working visit to inspect afforestation programmes being undertaken by the Commission in some reserves in the region.
He was accompanied by some members of the FC Board, including; Brigadier General (Retired) Joseph Odei, its chairman, and other key staff of the FC.
Briefing the CEO and his entourage on the general situation at the Ayom and other forest reserves in the Goaso District of the FSD, Mr Godfred Quarshigah, the District Manager, said more than 200 of the illegal chainsaw operators arrested were prosecuted and sentenced to court fines.
The activities of the chainsaw operators remained a serious threat to the Ayom reserve, one of the largest in the region.
He announced that steady progress was being made with the on-going re-afforestation programme.
About 80 percent of the forest is depleted and the main causes have been illegal logging and wildfires.
He commended the youth engaged in the re-forestation programme for their hard work.
Mr Obeng Boamah, the Bechem District Manager of the FSD, said illegal logging and perennial bush fires had devastated the Bosomkese and Aparapi forest reserves, and appealed to the local communities to support in the fight to safeguard the reserves.
Many of the offenders arrested last year are still facing trial, and he appealed to the courts to move quickly on the cases.
Mr Afriyie expressed discomfort with the level of depletion after touring the reserves, and directed the managers of the FSD to be on the ground to ensure that the plantation exercise achieved the intended outcomes.