Blame NDC gov't for depletion of forests - Sir John

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C.E.O of Forestry Commission, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie

The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission has blamed the depletion of the country’s forests on the failure of the past National Democratic Congress government to employ adequate forest guards and other personnel to protect the forest.   

Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (aka Sir John) also says the past government’s reluctance to release funds for recruitment gave illegal miners, chainsaw operators and other encroachers a field day in the forest reserves.

He made the comments on the sidelines of the first leg of a three-day inspection tour of some plantation sites in Ashanti and Western Regions. 

He told Joy News the Forestry Commission should not be blamed for the 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.

"It is the 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," he said.

He explains further, "Indeed the last time that I heard, we were only given the opportunity to employ only 50 when we need over 2,000 or 3,000 people and if you have one guard manning about four miles of a forest and considering the age; some of them 45, 50-years, 60-years, it was difficult for them."

The former General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party has been on the inspection tour of the Ashanti and Western regions where about 700 hectares of degraded forests 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 promised that under this leadership, human resource, financial and logistic support such as Wellington boots, and protective clothing will be provided to facilitate the work of the forest guards.

"We have trained people at Asutuare...these are very strong and energetic people who can ward off these encroachers like the chainsaw operators, and galamsey people. 

He said there is a target to employ about 15,000 forest guards to keep Ghana's forest reserves intact.