Military, BNI, Police destroy illegal farms in Birim Forest Reserve

A combined team of military personnel, the Bureau of National Investigations, the police, and forest guards destroyed part of  illegal farms in the Birim Forest Reserve on Tuesday.

Ms Dorothy Dampson, the Akyem Oda District Forestry Manager, who led the exercise,   said some famers, mostly from Apoli Zevor in the Akyemmansa District, had planted cocoa and food crops on  about 100 acres of the  Reserve .

She told the Ghana News Agency that a similar exercise was conducted in 2008-2009 but it was halted half way and that gave the farmers the opportunity to expand their illegal farms.

Ms Dampson said: “This time round we will sustain the exercise to ensure that all illegal farmers are flushed out from the reserve”.

She said any farmer caught farming in the reserve would be arrested and prosecute and explained that there was “no admitted farm” in the reserve, which means that the farmers were operating in the area illegally.

Ms Dampson said that was against the Forest Reserve Protection Degree 1974 NRCD 243 as amendment in 2002.

He said: “The Amendment is Forest Protection Act 624, which prevents individuals or groups to farm or to cultivate in a Forest Reserve without notice from the Chief Executive Officer of the Forest Commission”.

Ms Dampson said after clearing the farms, people would be employed from the fringe communities to embark on tree planting in the reserve under the Government’s National Forest Plantation Development Programme.

She expressed worry about the rate at which the country’s forests were being depleted, and called on chiefs and other stakeholders to help save the forests.

The GNA learned that farmers who might have got wind of the exercise fled the farms before the arrival of the team.

Source: GNA

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