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Parliament to pass Wildlife Bill soon

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ElephantsThe Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry is to put before Parliament the Wildlife Resource Management Bill, immediately the House reconvenes in September for its passage.

The passage of the Bill, according to the Committee, is urgently needed as it would help to facilitate proper maintenance of national forest reserves and control illegal logging and annual bushfires.

Alhaji Amadu Seidu, Member of Parliament for Yapei/Kusawgu and the Chairman of the Committee, said this when the Committee undertook a field visit to the Bosomkese and Aparapi forest reserves at Bechem in the Tano South District of the Brong-Ahafo Region.

Wild fire swept through the two reserves and destroyed several tree species early this year.

Reacting to a complaint about attacks on forest guards in the area, Alhaji Seidu said provision have been made in the Bill to empower forest guards to use firearms in the course of their duties.

Mr Thomas Okyere, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, had earlier expressed worry about the repetitive attacks on forest guards orchestrated by illegal loggers in the Region.

Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, the MP for Atwima-Nkwabiagya North, and a ranking member of the committee, said a clear policy direction was required for the proper maintenance of forest reserves.

He said there is the need for the country to invest part of its oil revenue into forest management, saying proper management of the forest could fetch the country millions of dollars annually.

Mr Owusu-Bio said forest resources fetched Sweden 10 billion Euros annually, stressing that Ghana has comparative advantage than Sweden and there was the need for the government to pay particular attention to afforestation.

Mr Nicholas Awuku, the Bechem Forest District Manager, expressed concern about inadequate funding and technical staff saying the office has only two technical officers and 12 forest guards.

Source: GNA

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