Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission is blaming the depletion of the country’s forests on failure of the past National Democratic Congress government to employ adequate forest guards and other personnel needed to protect the forest.
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie says government’s reluctance to release funds for recruitment gave illegal miners, chainsaw operators and other encroachers a field day.
He spoke to JoyNews on the first leg of a three -day inspection tour of some plantation sites in Ashanti and Western Regions.
He says the Forestry Commission should not be blamed for inaction of the Mahama-administration.
“Over the years, a number of persons that we ought to have employed to guard the forest as forest guards and so on and so forth have not been coming.
I don’t blame the forestry commission for that,” he said.
Rather, he wants the blame put at the doorsteps of the former administration for failing to employ additional hands.
” It is government who should put their money where their mouths are and over the years, the government were not interested in that. And so we have depleted hands out there-some of them had retired, others have died; others have moved on and instead of replacing them, we do not have what it takes.
Indeed the last time that I heard, we were only given the opportunity to employ only 50 when we need over 2000 or 3,000 people and if you have one guard manning about 4 miles of a forest and considering the age; some of them 45, 50-years, 60-years, it was difficult for them,” Mr. Owusu Afriyie explained.
The former scribe for the New Patriotic Party has been on an inspection tour in Ashanti and Western regions where about 700 hectares of degraded forest have been replanted.
Some of the sites include the Akentenso Community Teak and Cedrela Seed Orchard and Breporo Melina and Kuhuhwi Seed Orchard in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve in Ashanti region. Others are Merewa and Manse Melina, Teak and Cedrela Plantations in Anwiaso East Forest Reserve and the model plantation and seed orchard in Sui in the Wiawso District in the Western regions.
Mr. Owusu Afriyie promises human resource, financial and logistic support such as wellington booths, arms and protective clothing from government for protection of forest reserves.
He announced the appointment of 15,000 personnel to work in the forestry sector.
“We have trained people at Asutuare armed them; these are very strong and energetic people who can ward off these encroachers-the chainsaw operators, galamsey people. Am happy that the 15,000 that we are going to employ, some of them are going to be employed in those areas and I can assure you that most of the forests would be intact,” he emphasized.