The Nkawie District Office of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission has confiscated the milling machines of two sawmillers who allegedly connived with illegal chainsaw operators to fell over 130 trees in the Asenanyo Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.
Even though parts of the reserve has been destroyed, no arrest has been made yet.
The Nkawie District Manager of the FSD, Nana Poku Bosompim, who briefed the source, commended residents of the area for informing the commission about the illegal activities.
An environmental NGO, Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), has offered to train some residents of the 17 fringe communities on the protection of the forest reserve.
Nana Bosompim said after being informed about the illegal felling of trees, his outfit dispatched officials to the area, but upon seeing them, the suspects abandoned two timber trucks and bolted.
He said the commission’s officials traced the lumber to some sawmills in Bibiani in the Western Region.
The sawmillers who got wind of the commission’s operation dismantled their equipment and hid them in the bush, but “through the eagle eyes and experience of the officers they were able to detect and retrieve the machines from the bush”.
Nana Bosompim said with support from some policemen, the officials dismantled the machines and sent them to the FSD office at Nkawie in the Atwima Nwabiagya District in the Ashanti Region.
He said under the Forest Protection Act 197, the commission was empowered to confiscate machinery used for illegal activities.
The Operations Director of NDF, Mr Glen Asomaning, said it was necessary to sensitise people living around the reserves to the dangers of illegal tree felling on their livelihood.
According to him, they could be exposed to several hazards if they allowed the forest cover to be depleted.