Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Wednesday, appealed to Members of Parliament to support the Ministry to halt illegal chainsaw and mining operations, which pose serious threats to sustainable forest resources management.
His appeal comes in the wake of the national fight against illegal mining, nicknamed galamsey, since last year, and fresh complaints made to the House by Mr. Daniel Kwasi Ashiamah, MP for Buem in the Volta Region, of high illegal logging by chainsaw operators in the area.
Mr. Ashiamah asked the sector Minister, who was represented by his Deputy, on the floor of the House what the Ministry was doing to curb the indiscriminate felling of trees in the Constituency, specifically Baika, Ayoma, Kute and Teteman areas, by the Volta Forest Resources Company Limited in the Ho Municipality.
The Minister, in response, said by the records of the Ministry ”there is no such company by name Volta Forest Resources Company Limited operating in the Jasikan District of the Buem Constituency.”
He said to clamp down on the illegalities in the area, the Forestry Commission occasionally deployed the Paramilitary Trained Resource Guards and Regional Timber Monitoring Task Force to the area to arrest offenders, and in some cases, chainsaw machines were confiscated.
The District Forest Office in Jasikan also undertakes routine monitoring and patrol of the forest reserve boundaries to prevent encroachment and illegal felling, but is, however, overwhelmed by illegal harvesting activities in the off-forest reserve areas.
“The Forestry Office has, therefore, established Collaborative Forest Management committees to assist in the management of forest resources in the area,” the Deputy Minister said, adding that some of the committees were very active, especially in the Bodada, Teteman and Asukawkaw-Katanga areas.
“Just a few days ago, the Bodada Collaborative Management Committee assisted in impounding three chainsaws and a quantity of illegal wood in the Bowri Amanfrom portion of the Odomi River Forest Reserve at about 2100 hours. The collaborative effort is highly commendable as the Forestry Commission alone cannot halt the menace,” Mr. Owusu-Bio said.
He informed the House that there was an on-going constant education and awareness creation in the District through durbars and radio discussions about the menace of illegal chainsaw operations.
The communities are also engaged in tree planting activities in restocking degraded landscape and also fire protection activities during the dry season.
Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, the Minister for Water Resources and Sanitation, earlier had answered questions related to the provision of potable water for the people of the Abease Traditional Area and when the Prang Small Town Water Project would be completed, all located in the Pru West Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Answering a question by Mr Kwabena Amankwa Asiamah, MP for the Fanteakwa, on when the Begoro Water Supply would be connected to the Afram River to save the District from perennial water shortages, Mr Adda said the Ministry was discussing with the Ministry of Finance to source funds to expand the Begoro Water Supply system to extend water supply to other adjoining communities.
He said the system, constructed in 1972, had undergone minor rehabilitation over the years, and the current water demand for Begoro was 225m3/day.
However, the plant is only able to produce 112m3/day, and to address the water supply gap in the short term, the Ghana Water Company Limited is developing two of the boreholes that were handed over by the District Assembly and to extend the distribution pipelines in the supply area.