The Forestry Commission has begun reclaiming forest reserves degraded by activities of illegal miners. Eight local firms are working on the program over 12 months in Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions.
Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, says massive destruction by galamsey operators necessitated the move. Apamprama Forest Reserve is one of the affected reserves in the Ashanti Region which attracted expatriate and local illegal miners in 2016.
At least, eight Chinese illegal miners and their Ghanaian collaborators were arrested in two separate operations in the same year for plunging the reserve. The Forestry Commission also seized excavators and other mining equipment.
Four Chinese illegal miners who were ordered by the Bekwai Circuit Court to reclaim degraded forest failed to do so after paying fines in 2015.
Residents of Koboro, a farming community in the Amansie Central District, have suffered the effect of illegal mining.
Many people have reportedly fallen in uncovered pits, sometimes resulting in loss of lives, unfortunate situations that went unreported.
Bekwai Akwamuhene, Nana Ntiamoah Amankuo III, recounted the plight of poor farmers in the area.
He revealed several unreported deaths have been recorded in the mining pits.
"We have suffered the effect of illegal mining for far too long. Many have [fallen] inside the pits whilst on the way to their farms," he revealed.
He is happy at the move by the Forestry Commission to reclaim the mined lands, saying many more lives would be saved.
"Some of them [pits] are very deep and scary. I know some people have lost their lives in the pit whilst others are also injured. But they go unreported," he revealed.
The Board and other Commission officials together with Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Natural Resources have been touring the reclamation sites.
"We selected companies that have what it takes to do it. It is not only here in Ashanti region. This is the first company in Ashanti region. In Western Region there are about six companies that have been given the permit to reclaim the land on our behalf," Mr Owusu-Afriyie said.
"What you have seen here has nothing to do with galamsey or whatsoever. It is all to do with reclamation of the land. Having done that, by the time the rain season comes, we are now going to plant some enrichment plants here to get the forest back," he added.
Source : Myjoyonline