Mr William Baah, Brong Ahafo Regional Manager of Forest Services Division (FSD) on Friday appealed to Ministries of Defence and Lands and Natural Resources to allow soldiers assist the FSD to protect forest resources in the country.
He said withdrawal of the services of the military in early December 2008 for other equally important national assignment had given chainsaw operators “a field day to operate in the region”.
Mr Baah who made the appeal in an interview with Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani said absence of the military in helping officials of FSD to combat activities of illegal chainsaw operators “is not just a challenge but a big problem in the industry because these national economic saboteurs are felling trees with impunity”.
He explained that these nation wreckers armed with deadly weapons entered the forests in the night to carry out their illegal timber activities and without the assistance of the military for routine operations, “we can make the effort as part of our mandate in guarding the forest resources but at the peril of our lives”.
Mr Baah said since the FSD-Military joint operations ceased the forest reserves at Bosomkese in Tano North District, Bia-Tano and Subim in Asunafo North Municipality, Bosomoa in Kintampo North District and Mpameso in Dormaa Municipality had been entered into by illegal chainsaw operators.
He explained that the success in combating the problem did not depend on the FSD-Military joint operations alone but required the cooperation of all stakeholders including residents in the forest fringe communities, traditional authorities, opinion leaders, assembly members, municipal and district assemblies.
Mr Baah appealed to all stakeholders and the public to appreciate efforts of FSD and sympathise with them in confronting the challenge of protecting the limited forest reserves and reforesting the depleted ones.
He commended Nana Ansah Adu Baah II, Paramount Chief of Yamfo Traditional Area for assisting the FSD to prevent some illegal chainsaw operators from entering the Bosomkese forest reserve at Dwenase near Yamfo in Tano North District about two weeks ago.
“Even though no arrest was made because they managed to flee, the timely-assistance and cooperation of the chief and his people saved the nation from losing the amount of timber that would have been lost,” he added.