THE Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is working out modalities to cede parts of the country’s degraded forests to the Ghana Armed Forces for farming.
The sector minister, Alhaji Collins Dauda, who made this known in Kumasi last Monday, said apart from assisting the military to generate some income to support their operations, it would also help check chainsaw operations, which had been on the ascendancy.
“The presence of the military in the forest areas would put fear in the chain saw operators, to complement the efforts of the ministry in addressing the canker,” he said.
Alhaji Dauda stated this when he toured a number of timber companies to acquaint himself with their operations.
Among the companies he visited were LLL Limited, BLLC Limited, Hanmax Limited, Maxwell Owusu Timbers, Wood Processing Limited and Naja David
Veneer and Plywood Limited.
Alhaji Dauda admitted that not much had been done by policy makers over the years to check chainsaw operations, a situation which had contributed greatly to the depletion of timber resources.
Alhaji Dauda stated that plans were underway to repackage the task force of the Forestry Commission (FC) with the view to making it potent to check the illegal activities.
“The practice where the task force only resorted to chasing the illegal operators to the markets has been found ineffective and this time around, they will be in the forests, roads and the markets to trap the operators,” he said.
The minister said the failure of the timber companies to sell 20 per cent of their products locally as required by law had also contributed to the demand for chain sawn lumber.
He painted a gloomy picture for the timber industry in the not-too-distant future if the companies failed to take on commercial plantation development.
Alhaji Dauda said day in and day out, timber companies were requesting for concession in order to sustain their operations but added, “We will be deceiving ourselves if we think that there are any concessions out there to share.”
He expressed regret that companies had pushed for the amendment of the Timber Resource Utilisation Act, which placed emphasis on forestation.
The minister stated that reforestation was high on his agenda and gave the assurance that the ministry would do everything to support firms that embarked on forestation.
The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotei, said the extent of degradation of the forests was very serious and this could have dire consequences on the economy if not arrested.
He said the commission was encouraging timber companies to enter into plantations to arrest the problem.
Welcoming the minister to the BLLC Limited, the Executive Director of the company, Mrs Comfort Joyce Wireko-Brobby, said the company was working hard to overcome the challenges in the industry but appealed to the ministry to do something about allocation of concessions so that they could get the required raw materials to work with.
Officials who accompanied the minister included the Regional Manager of the Forestry Services Division (FSD), Mrs Edith Abroquah, and others from the ministry and the FC headquarters in Accra.