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19.07.2005 Regional News

Students condemn illegal felling of chiefs


Badu (B/A) July 19, GNA - Badu Students Union has accused some sub-chiefs in the area of spearheading the illegal felling of trees in Tain district of Brong-Ahafo, causing excessive damage to the environment. The union alleged in a statement on Tuesday signed by Mr. Ben Akrosumah and Mr. Michael Yaw Okrah, President and Secretary respectively that the chiefs had on their own accord awarded numerous contracts to some timber firms.

Such illegal activities are causing desertification in the area, the students said in the statement addressed to the Minister of Lands and Forestry through the Regional Minister.

The union said it had noted with concern that "with all the government efforts in sensitizing Ghanaians on the menace of desertification and the need to plant trees to preserve the environment,the direct opposite is happening here in Badu".

The statement expressed grave concern about the alarming rate of chainsaw operations in the area, allegedly authorized by perpetrators of the illegal felling of trees.

"Species of trees that are not needed by the timber industry have also been awarded to charcoal burners", the union added.

The students union explained that Badu was predominantly a farming community, depending solely on the land for their living and the rate at which the environment was being exploited, if not checked, would sink the people deeper in poverty.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Mr. Maxwell Oti-Yeboah, Managing Director of Oti Yeboah Complex Limited, a timber firm mentioned by the union for felling trees illegally in the area, denied the allegation. Mr. Oti-Yeboah showed to newsmen a permit issued by the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission, signed by Mr. M. Owusu Abebrese, acting Executive Director, authorizing his company to fell 15 Ceiba and three Kyenkyen trees from Bookwai, Tadiekwai, Krebo and Kyin, all in the area.

The permit, which was issued after the Queen mother of Nkorakwagya had given her consent to the operations of the company in the area, will expire on August eight, this year.

The Company also signed a social responsibility agreement with the chiefs and people of Badu on June 24, this year, which among the terms, indicated that the community had agreed that Messrs Oti Yeboah Complex Limited could harvest timber trees on their stool land.

As a social responsibility agreement, it said, Messrs Oti Yeboah Complex Limited will pay an amount of 500,000 cedis per truck load of timber harvested for the provision of social amenities in the community.

The agreement stated that in return, the chief, elders and the people would allow the smooth operations of the company without any interruption by way of harassment of its workers.