The Forestry Commission (FC) has destroyed 953 hectares of illegal farms that sprung up in forest reserves across the country in 2017 alone.
The Commission also arrested and prosecuted 185 suspects whose activities contributed to the destruction of the forest cover.
Chief Executive Officer, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie who disclosed this to Joy News said 158 chainsaw and 79 vehicles used by intruders in forest reserves were also seized.
Activities of illegal chainsaw operators, illegal miners and other human activities are said to be contributing negatively to the depletion of forest cover.
This has seen Ghana’s forest cover depleted from 8.2 million hectares in the 1980s to 1.6 million hectares in 2018.
Attempts by the FC to restore degraded landscape in the country continues to be met with the negative attitude of some recalcitrant intruders.
Some forest guards have become targets for miscreants who maim them for life with the latest incident recorded at Sankore in the Bono Ahafo region.
Watch: Preserving the forests
Mr Owusu Afriyie warned that such attacks in the future would be met with equal force.
According to him, forest guards would soon be armed following approval by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
The FC boss disclosed this at the launch of the Forestry Week and Greening Ghana Day at Sakora Wonoo in the Kwabre Municipality on Tuesday.
“In 2017 alone, the Rapid Response Unit of the Forestry Commission seized 53,686 assorted lumber; destroyed 952.7 hectares of illegal farms; 185 suspects were arrested and prosecuted.
“Also, 113 Chanfan machines were destroyed; 158 chainsaw machines were seized and 79 vehicles were arrested across the country,” he said.
Mr Owusu Afriyie paid tribute to the judiciary especially some judges who sat and prosecuted some recalcitrant forest offenders.
He cited the Nkawie Circuit Court which fined 14 chainsaw operators ¢45,600 on May 14.
But despite the sanctions and several other efforts, some offenders continue to degrade the forest with impunity.
“Despite all these attempts to restore the degraded landscape of the country, some recalcitrant people are still trying to thwart the efforts of the government and Forestry Commission,” he stated.
He was emphatic the FC is very motivated and will leave no stone unturned in bringing efforts of intruders to naught.
The FC boss revealed an afforestation program introduced by government has been over-subscribed.
Over 60,000 youth, against an initial 15,000 approved by the Forestry Commission have been registered for the program, he said.
The Lands and Natural Resource Minister, Peter John Amewu also registered his disappointment the devastation caused by illegal mining activities.
He is, therefore, encouraging all, especially the youth to join voluntary tree planting exercise to save the forest cover.
“We need to plant trees in our cities, towns and villages to provide serene environment even for recreational purposes.
“There is also the need to embark on tree planting along the banks of our major rivers to protect them from siltation and pollution due to soil erosion and prevent them from drying,” he noted.
Source : myJoyonline