All the nine forest reserves of Offinso in the Ashanti Region have been depleted due to activities of illegal chainsaw operators.
What is raising speeding the problem is desire of operators now to fell immature teak trees planted under the government's plantation programmes to replenish the reserves.
These operators, according to the Offinso Forestry Manager, Godfred Kofi Afrifa operate mainly during the night and are armed to the teeth to even put the fear of God into security agencies.
Mr. Afrifa told newsmen about the development at the weekend following the seizure of 24 vehicles which were fully loaded with logs, lumber and billets.
Among the vehicles were articulated trucks, KIA trucks and long cargo trucks. They were seized within a period of one month between January and February, this year.
The Forestry Manager said officials of the division were at risk as the illegal operators had been threatening them.
Mr. Afrifa urged the government to ensure stringent measures to stem the use of chainsaw else the plantation programmes would be a mirage.
According to him a District Task Force with the support of the police had been formed and last year, succeeded in forwarding 12 cases of illegal operators to the courts after making some arrests.
He hoped that the courts would impose some heavy fines on owners of vehicles which involved in the illegal operations, saying that most of the time, their drivers escaped arrest leaving the vehicles behind.
The nine reserves are Mankrang, Opro, Asubima, Kwamusa and Gianana.
The rest are East Asuofuo Shelter belts, West Asuofuo Shelter belts, Afram Headwaters and Afrensu Brohuma.
Source: The Ghanaian Times