The Forestry Commission has begun to take serious actions to halt illegal poaching and logging in forest reserves by arming its forest guards to daunt those engaging in such activity.
It is estimated that about 6.6 million hectares of the country’s 8.2 million hectare forest reserve have diminished over time as a result of reckless human activity.
To serve as deterrence for those engaging in illegal activity, the Deputy CEO of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey has said the use of semi-automatic weapons will help staff counter-attacks for illegal loggers who invade forest reserves at night.
He added that the decision to arm patrol officers of forest reserves was also informed by a series of forest guard attacks by poachers.
According to him, the commission has signed an agreement with the Ghana Armed Forces to give those who will be armed proper training and guidance on the use of the weapons they will be equipped with.
He was speaking to journalists at a training programme for custom authorities on the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“In the past, it was like sending an army to war without ammunition. Our guards had their hands tied behind their backs. The people they contend with bear sophisticated weapons and they know that we are not properly equipped, and that is why they easily attack our guards,” he said.
“It will give our men some protection and make the poachers aware that we can match them and even with superior firepower”, he added.