Forestry Commission calls for stiffer punishment for forest offenders 

The Forestry Commission has appealed to the judiciary to hand over stiffer punishments to forest offenders to serve as deterrents to others.

The Commission has expressed serious concerns about the activities of illegal miners and forest logging in the forest reserves, affecting the ecosystem.

The Commission commended the judiciary for delivering speedy judgements on the country’s forest-related cases.

Mr Nyadia Sulemana Nelson, Deputy Chief Executive, Forestry Commission, made the appeal at the closing ceremony of the Rapid Response Unit of the Commission training at the 64 Infantry Regiment Training School at Asutuare.

The trainees, numbered 70, went through three-week training in physical fitness, weapon handling, law enforcement, field craft, survival skills, first aid, leadership, and others.

He said the activities of illegal logging and mining had become a serious threat to forest protection and management, hence the need for training to combat the situation.

Most of these illegal operators in forest reserves, he said, carry deadly and offensive weapons in their line of operations.

Mr Nelson said there had been cases where poachers, illegal loggers, and miners were maimed or killed staff of the Commission, discharging their duties.

In 2023, one member of the rapid response team of the Commission was abducted by unknown illegal miners at Sunyani in the Bono region, kept for two weeks, and later found at a refuse dump site at Nkawkaw in the Eastern Region.

The training, he stated, would provide the trainees with the requisite knowledge and skills to defend themselves whenever they were attacked by illegal miners or loggers.

The Commission, he said, would continue to provide training to all frontline staff to equip them to carry out their mandated duties well.

The Commission has so far trained 1,034 staff of the RRT since 2017.

Mr Nelson said the Commission would adhere to its mission to regulate the utilisation of forest and wildlife resources and ensure the conservation and management of the resources.

He urged the officers to put to use the knowledge acquired to safeguard the forest from further destruction.

Lieutenant Colonel Prince Frimpong Owusu, Rear Commander, 64 Infantry Regiment Training School, said the training was designed to enhance the efficiency and capacities of the trainees.

“It is also to build their confidence and enhance teamwork among themselves in protecting forest reserves,” he said.

He commended them for their resilience, dedication, and professionalism before, during, and after the training, urging them to replicate their skills in their respective fields of discipline.

The trainees expressed satisfaction about the exercise and pledged to put into practice the lessons they learned to protect the forest.

The trainees were presented with certificates of participation.

Source: GNA

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