The Forestry Commission (FC) is to take delivery of 1,000 firearms for forest and wildlife guards to combat illegalities across the country’s forest and wildlife protected areas.
The firearms will enable the guards to protect themselves and also repel the frequent attacks on them by some unscrupulous people, including illegal chainsaw operators and poachers.
The Chief Executive Officer of the FC, Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, who announced this in Accra last Friday, said: “By February 2020, the firearms will be in to properly arm our staff when they go out.”
“To combat the increasing spate of illegal logging, mining, farming and other such activities in our forest reserves and wildlife protected areas, different approaches are being pursued,” he added.
Mr Owusu-Afriyie, who was speaking at the end-of-year briefing and awards ceremony at the headquarters of the FC, said “the commission sought the approval of the Public Procurement Authority to procure 1,000 arms and ammunition for forest and wildlife guards for the effective patrol of our forest and wildlife estates”.
He cited instances when forest rangers of the FC on duty had been shot at, thereby putting their lives in danger.
He also said an estimated 24 million assorted species of seedlings had been supplied and planted, and mentioned some of the tree species as Ofram, Emire, Wawa, Kokrodua, Teak, Cedrela, Gmelina, Cassia, Eucalyptus and Mahogany.
He said an additional 1.4 million tree seedlings were nursed by personnel of the Youth in Afforestation Project (YAP).
Mr Owusu-Afriyie also said 83,000 people were engaged for this year’s forest plantation programme as part of the FC’s job creation initiative.
“These include 46,000 under the YAP, 15,000 under the modified Taungya system and an estimated 2,000 in seedling production. The private sector also employed an estimated 20,000 people nationwide,” he added.
On the financial performance of the commission as of the end of September 2019, he said GHȼ146 million was realised from government subvention, internally generated funds and donor funding.
“Out of this, GHȼ63 million was used to pay salaries, as against a budgeted amount of GHȼ68 million. The commission generated GHȼ86 million, instead of the budgeted amount of GHȼ53 million, and we received GHȼ10 million from our donor partners,” he added.
According to him, GHȼ94 million was spent on goods and services, with GHȼ6.4 million being expended on assets.
He said GHȼ9.85 million was used as education grant for staff, GHȼ4.49 million was paid to staff who exited the FC as part of a staff terminal benefit policy, GHȼ1.1 million was paid to retiring staff, while about GHȼ602,000 was paid as medical refund.
“The commission also disbursed GHȼ2.7 million as special loan and GH₵200,000 as housing loan to staff,” Mr Owusu-Afriyie added.
The event was used to honour staff of the FC from across the country for their hard work and commitment during the year.