Researcher calls for national taskforce to fight illegal lumbering

Dumasua (B/A)� Dr John Akparep, a Researcher and Senior Lecturer at the University of Development Studies, has called for the establishment of a national taskforce to fight illegal chainsaw operations and preserve the forest resources.

The taskforce would intensify surveillance on the shoulders of forest reserves and combat illegal timber logging, which was depleting forest resources and affecting national biodiversity, he said.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop on Tuesday at Dumasua in the Sunyani West District, Dr Akparep said agriculture, as the bedrock of Ghana’s economy, was largely dependent on the strength of the nation’s forest and trees, which was fast depleting.

He said with emphasis on cash crop farming, agriculture remained the main driving force of Ghana’s economy as it accounted for approximately 42 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and also employed 54 per cent of the national workforce.

The workshop was organised by the Ghana Association of Commercial Tree Growers and Cash Crops (GACTACC) with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).

It is in line with a project, dubbed: Advocating for conservation of cash crops and trees against illegal lumbering for sustainable use, being implemented by the Association with funding from the BUSAC Fund and its partners.

Attended by representatives from the Forestry Commission, Stool Lands, Civil Society Organisations, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the workshop created opportunity and common platform for the participants to brainstorm on the effective way of protecting national forest reserves and cash crops.

Dr Akparep said aside illegal chainsaw operations, the taskforce would check the uncontrolled activities of sand winners, charcoal burners, illegal small scale miners, yam stick cutters as well as activities of Fulani herdsmen, which were contributing to forest destruction.

He said cash crop farms such as cocoa, cashew, oil palm, acacia, mangoes, coffee, rubber and moringa were threatened due to forest destruction, adding that if the situation was not brought under control, the country would suffer in the long term.

Mr Joseph Yeboah, the Chairman of the GACTACC, said annual average earnings of farmers engaged in cash crops were declining due to tropical deforestation.

He lauded the BUSAC Fund for the support and appealed to residents of forest fringe communities to help prevent illegal lumbering and other negative environmental practices by arresting the perpetrators involved.

Source: Ghana News Agency