The Forestry Commission and the Military are undertaking a joint operation in the Western Region to clamp down on illegal forest activities.
Dubbed ‘Halt 3’, the operation being conducted in the Sefwi Wiawso area in the Western Region, started on September 13, 2018, and will end on October 4, 2018.
Briefing the media on the operation, Mr John Allotey Deputy Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, said the forest and wildlife resources in the Region were under serious threat through human activities, especially illegal farming, mining, logging, chain sawing and commercial collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) as well as poaching.
He said these activities in the forest reserves in the Region were causing serious havoc to the environment and forest resources.
He said during a rapid field assessment of the extent of degradation, it was discovered that 24,398.96 hectares of intact forest had been lost to forest illegalities.
Mr Allotey said a recent multi-stakeholder consultation on the way forward in Sefwi Wiawso unanimously agreed on a military intervention, together with the Rapid Response Team and the forest guards of the Forestry Commission, to stop the illegalities going on in the forest reserves.
He said the Omanhene of Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Area, Okatakyie Kwasi Bumangama and his chiefs and elders also declared their total support for the operation to sanitise the forest reserves.
Mr Allotey said the Forestry Commission would continue to collaborate with the Military to sanitise the illegalities in the forest system in line with its mandate to regulate the utilisation of forest and wildlife resources.
It would also ensure the conservation and management of those resources as well as the co-ordination of policies related to them.
Mr Allotey explained that the military had been engaged because the illegal operators were known to be in possession of modern sophisticated weapons for their self –defence, which the staff of Forestry Commission could not contend favourably with.
He said the Commission’s District Management Teams in collaboration with the Rapid Response Teams would continue to patrol the forest reserves even after the exit of the military teams.