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FC moves to support efforts to protect forest guards

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Forest1The Forest Commission (FC) has set up a rapid response unit to augment its efforts at protecting forest and wildlife guards in their operations.

The move became necessary due to the recent increased alleged brutality meted out to officers by illegal chainsaw and Galamsey (illegal miners) operators.

Mr Samuel Afari Dartey made this known at a conference organized by the Commission in Accra on Monday.

He said from 2011 to date, the Commission had lost 62 of its guards in death through such alleged brutalities.

Mr Dartey said the Unit would collaborate with the already established joint military task force to enhance the operational equipment and logistics holding as well as combat readiness capability.

“…As the statutory body mandated by law to sustainably manage and protect Ghana’s forest and wildlife resources, the Forestry Commission shall not be cowed, by these brutalities, into reneging on our responsibility”, he said.

Mr Dartey said between February 2011 and March 2013, illegal chain saw operators, wildlife poachers and galamsey operators had allegedly attacked 120 forest and wildlife guards and vandalized vehicles that belonged to the EC.

“What is extremely worrying is that these attacks take place within communities where opinion leaders and influential individuals are conscious of effects of these acts on the ecology”, he alleged.

Mr Dartey admitted that some staff of the Commission and law enforcement officers were alleged to be involved in the illegality.

He appealed to the law enforcing agencies, Metropolitan, District, Municipal Assemblies and the media to partner with the EC to clamp down on the illegality.

Concerning the bereaved families, Mr Dartey disclosed that the Commission would give “workman compensation” to beneficiaries of the deceased in addition to dividends that would accrue from financial instrument that the Commission would invest in for the beneficiaries.

To stop the indiscriminate felling of trees for chainsaw lumber production, the Ministry of Lands and Forestry in 1996 constituted a joint Timber Task Force, (composed of staff of Forest Services Division (FSD), the police and the military) to track down culprits and to confiscate chainsaw lumber, equipment and vehicles used in their operations.

Currently the various military battalions are said to have teams in their operational command areas which give support to the FSD Regional constituted teams.

These teams are mainly attached to the regional offices and dispatched to the field when a request made by the districts for support and or when an informant reported anything directly to them.

Forest reserves that had been identified to be under threat include Tano Offin, Asenanyo and Tinte Bepo in the Ashanti Region, Asukese and Subim in the Brong Ahafo Region and Atewa and South Formangsu in the Eastern Region.

The rest were Tano Suraw, Nueng South and Krokosua in the Western Region as well as Bimpong and Wawahi in the Central Region.

Source: GNA

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