Ghana: New System to Check Chainsaw Operations Introduced

Asuokwa — TO SUSTAIN and curtail the rampant stealing of teak in the forest reserves, the Plantation Department of the Forest Commission (FC) has introduce a new management programme dubbed coppice management.

The programme, introduced by the Brong Ahafo Zonal Manager of the Plantation Department, Mr. Joe Ackah was to involve the forest fringe communities in the cultivation and management of offshoots of harvested teak in the reserves.

Explaining the programme to The Chronicle at Asuokwa in the Yaya Forest Reserve during a visit to the reserve, Mr. Ackah noted that teak was a life long tree that needed periodic maintenance to ensure the sustainability of the forest.

He said the coppice programme was intended to remove some offshoots of harvested teak, so that the best ones among the offshoot teak could grow into beautiful teak trees.

According to him, the programme was also meant to reduce unemployment and alleviate poverty among the people living in the community as well.

The coppice programme would also reduce fire outbreak in the reserve, because the dwellers are always in the reserve and would also have an interest because of their farms in it," said Mr. Ackah.

He explained that the new programme allows the people in the area to harvest teak firewood and the same time do some farming in the reserve.

Before the programme was introduce, according to Mr. Ackah, there were massive stealing of teak in the yaya forest reserve.

The Zonal Manager disclosed to The Chronicle that, because the community was not involved they looked unconcern when illegal operators go into the reserve to do their own thing.

Under the coppice system, as revealed to the paper, the people would be empowered to inspect permits from so-called genuine teak operators, adding, "copies of permit would be made available the Community Forest Committee (CFC), so that any person claiming to have acquired a permit from the commission, CFC can tally it with their copies".

Mr. Ackah told the Asuokwa community that any teak man who also claimed he has permit should have signed a social responsibility agreement document with the chief.

He further indicated that if any contractor who was not able to do that the people could arrest such a person as an illegal operator.

He disclosed that any genuine teak man doing business with FC must posses VAT registration, certificate, Internal Revenue Certificate, Timber Inspection Development Division certificate, certificate to commence business and certificate of incorporation.

Mr. Ackah told The Chronicle that members of Asuokwa who also worked under the coppice programme could also apply to the FC for a porting of the teak area consisting of 40% of the area worked to be located to them for their future benefit.

Nana Kwasi Yeboah II, the Chief of Asuokwa earlier made an appeal to the FC to empower the dwellers to check the illegal activities that was massive in the yaya forest reserve.

The Chief also commended a Sunyani based timber firm Oti Yeboah Complex Ltd for assisting them in building their school and other social immunities in the town, as part of the company's social responsibility.

The yaya forest reserve is one of the reserves in the country that had been experiencing rampant illegal chainsaw operations, following its location.

The reserve is stretched from Sunyani municipality, thus from Chiraa area to Akumadan in the Ashanti Region.

The Chronicle investigations established that the illegal operators normally used the Ashanti Region point of the road that links Akumadan and Chiraa.

The paper learnt that since the Akumadan portion of the road that passes through the yaya forest reserve falls under the Offinso Forestry District, it was difficult for Wenchi Forestry District to monitor the activities of the illegal operators.

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