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Task force set up to check illegal timber felling

By GNA

Sunyani, Aug. 31, GNA - Mr. William Baah, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Forestry Manager, has said the judiciary had failed to support the forestry department in preserving forest reserves in the region.

He alleged that the judiciary at times freed chainsaw and other illegal forest operators.

"Sometimes fines imposed on the culprits by the courts are so small that they do not deter others", Mr. Baah said at a meeting in Sunyani to re-activate the second phase of the "Operation Halt" programme in the region.

The programme is being undertaken to check illegal timber operations in forests.

A taskforce made up of personnel of the military, police, Bureau of National Investigations, Forestry Department and the Regional Coordinating Council was inaugurated at the meeting.

Mr. Baah said in a similar exercise in Goaso in the Asunafo North Municipality the Forestry Department, together with some officers of the 3BN Garrison in Sunyani, impounded 3,000 pieces of lumber as well as some chainsaw machines and their accessories in some forest reserves.

Mr. Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, Regional Minister, expressed worry about the rate at which forest reserves in the region were being depleted as a result of illegal human activities.

"If the forests are not there it affects the rainfall pattern", Mr. Nyamekye-Marfo said.

The Regional Minister noted with regret that illegal forest operators especially those in the reserves did not only cause harm to the forests but also evaded taxes needed for national development.

He advised the committee to work with diligence and urged the media to support it by helping to bring perpetrators to book whilst protecting the forests for future generations.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Amoah Ayisi, the Commanding Officer of 3BN Garrison, warned that the taskforce was determined to clampdown on illegal forest operators.

"We shall use reasonable force and also fight back any person who may try to resist arrest during the exercise", Lt. Col. Ayisi said.

GNA