District Chief Executive for Bia East in the Western Region has commended the Forestry Commission’s joint operation with the military to clamp down on illegal logging in forest reserves.
Richard Chebure observes illegal chainsaw operators and sawmills in reserves do not deplete forest resources but also deny the assembly revenue for development.
"How many people own sawmills here? Only five or six people have sawmills. Ask them if they pay any royalty to the assembly. They only destroy the forest for their personal gains," he told Joy News at Adabokrom.
The anti-logging operation code-named, 'Operation Halt' is in its third week.
Bia East is one of the deprived districts in the Western region of Ghana. It is surrounded by the Krokusua and Sui Forest reserves bounded by Nkrankwanta in the Dormaa Municipality in the Brong Ahafo region and Debiso in Bia West district of the Western region.
The assembly depends largely on District Assembly Common Fund and forest royalties for survival.
For instance, it received 78,000 cedis as its share of royalties for the second quarter of this year alone, from the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
Part of the money is being used to build ICT center for Adabokrom and also provide potable water for some communities in the district.
Mr. Chebbure has been participating in the operations to seize thousands of illegally sawn lumber from chainsaw operators and sawmills set up at the fringes of the forests.
"There are no well-established companies in this area so the assembly depends largely on royalties from the forest for revenue. Chainsaw operators contribute nothing in terms of revenue to the assembly. Their presence means a destruction of the forest and no payment of royalties to the assembly."
Forest reserves under siege by chainsaw operators and sawmills include Sui, Krokosua, Tano Suhyen and Murro.
"We seized 13 truckloads of lumber from one sawmill. If 100 chainsaw operators cut 100 trees a day, then we will lose 100 trees daily. They will destroy 3,000 trees in a month. There won't be a forest in 4-years. The forest would be no more."
He describes the exercise by joint military-forestry taskforce as timely.
"I was away in Juaboso for a meeting but had to rush back to join the team for the exercise. I am so happy to receive the military-forestry team for this operation.
“It will save the forest from these encroachers."
The military-forestry taskforce has seized over 300,000 sawn lumber kept in classrooms, church buildings and some concealed in wood dust.
It has also demobilised equipment of 37 illegal sawmills set up at the fringes of forest reserves which provide raw materials.
The task force has also arrested four illegal chainsaw and sawmill operators.
Officer in charge of operations, Charles Owusu warned the taskforce will leave no stone unturned in its effort to protect the forest, adding there is no hiding place for armed chainsaw operators.
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