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General News of Tuesday, 24 November 2020


Dismantling checkpoints won't help fight against illegal felling of trees – Forestry Commission advised

File photo of a checkpoint in the Eastern Region File photo of a checkpoint in the Eastern Region

Environmentalist, Samuel Obiri, has advised the Forestry Commission (FC) against its decision to close down its checkpoints and dispatch its officials to the forest to protect the trees from illegal chainsaw operators.

According to him, the checkpoints are as important as dispatching these officials to the forest. “It makes sense for the Forestry Commission to dispatch its officers to the forest to protect the trees but it is equally important for them to keep these checkpoints. We need these two layers to safeguard our forests.

The Forestry Commission needs to improve its visibility at the forest level to prevent the illegal felling of trees. But, supposing these trees are felled and forest guards are bypassed, then, the checkpoints will prevent these illegal chainsaw operators from getting away with their crime. And serve as a deterrent to offenders”.

The environmentalist explained that checkpoints mounted by the Forestry Commission perform two major functions. “The first is to check the illegal felling of trees and to ensure all trees transported on our roads have the legal permit and have paid the appropriate taxes”.

Championing the need for the implementation of the two-tier approach by the Forestry Commission, he noted from the environmental point of view that trees maintain good levels of Co2 in the environment and tackle the challenges of global warming.

“Ghana had a lot of tree canopies but because of illegal felling of trees, most of our forest has been turned to sites for illegal mining. We are predicted to be hard hit by the effect of climate change. It makes it worrying if we’re felling trees and are not putting in place measures to prevent this”.

The Forestry Commission (FC) has closed down two checkpoints on the Accra/Nkawkaw road to enable free movement of lumber to the various markets. The Nsaba checkpoint near Nkawkaw is closed while the Bunso checkpoint in the Eastern Region would be closed on Monday, November 23, 2020.

Chief Executive Officer of Forestry Commission, John Allotey, said the officials who worked at the closed checkpoints would be sent to the forest to protect the trees from illegal chainsaw activities and as well educate them on the need to preserve the country’s ecosystem.

He explained that it would be better for the Commission to enforce the laws at the forest gate rather than arresting the wood operators on the roads when they had already cut the trees for the market.