Chiefs can uproot the illegalities in our forests

Today, in Ghana, some people have arrogated to themselves powers by which they sort of usurp the duties of legitimate agencies. For instance, timber contractors employ the services of private individuals and designate them as guards to ward off encroachers and even fight state-employed forest guards.

It is also the case that even illegal loggers, otherwise known as chainsaw operators, carry weapons, including guns and machetes, into forests to fell trees in the hope of using the weapons to ward off community members who would challenge them or fight security personnel or forest guards who would try to arrest them.

Galamseyers do the worse because they, including the foreigners among them, particularly the Chinese, carry sophisticated weapons.

It is not wrong for people to protect their interest, especially if their economic activities are legal.

However, it calls for concerns the harsh treatment meted out to members of the communities in which they operate and even security personnel, including forest guards, that the state has assigned legitimate duties.

For instance, farmers who oppose the destruction of their crops are in some cases beaten by private security guards on the orders of the contractors or concessioners.

The situation is said to have created a sense of insecurity, fear and danger for and among the people living in such areas. 

It is therefore, heart-warming that the Forestry Commission has banned with immediate effect the carrying of arms by timber contractors in their concessions and consequently ordered all licensed contractors to disarm their private security guards or have their licences withdrawn by the Commission. 

The Commission is said to have given the directive at a meeting organised at the behest of Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II, the Paramount Chief of Dormaa Traditional Area, at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Dormaa Central Municipality of the Bono Region on Monday.

 Among other things, the directive is meant to create secured atmosphere for security guards of the Commission to carry out regular checks and ward off or arrest illegal loggers (chainsaw operators) to protect forest reserves.

The Ghanaian Times is happy that the meeting was attended by chiefs, concessioners of forest reserves and other stakeholders and was aimed at finding practical solutions to halt the activities of unscrupulous persons illegally plundering forest resources, mostly trees.

Our happiness is rooted in the sense that in Ghana, chiefs are custodians of a greater proportion of the land and they offer pieces of them to those who need them for various purposes.

Even those who are undertaking illegal mining, illegal sand-winning, illegal tree felling and other illegal and unlawful activities on certain pieces of land mostly mention some chiefs and family heads as their landlords or landladies.

This, in a way, makes it difficult fighting the nation wreckers who are plundering our forest, mineral and aquatic resources with careless abandon.

Therefore, if chiefs are teaming up with other stakeholders to fight all these illegal and unlawful activities in our forests and elsewhere, then we can heave a sigh of relief that there is hope for solution.

There is also the hope that community members who have devoted their lives to living in the forest and rural areas to farm or do something else towards nation building would have rest from the mistreatment from illegal timber forest guards  and, by extension, galamseyers, who are already being fought by the state.

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