A joint team of Northern Regional Security Council and officials from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, will in two weeks, commence the designing of strategies to halt the massive encroachment on public lands and forest reserve in the Northern Region.
The strategy would enable the Forestry Commission, Office of Administrator of Stool Lands and Lands Commission, to deal decisively with the menace which was gradually depleting the forest cover of the area, and resulting in unauthorised use of public lands.
Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, said, it was critical that such illegal activities were curbed in its early stages, to protect the remaining forest and land.
He said this yesterday, here at Tamale, following a meeting with the Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC).
The meeting formed part of the Minister’s week-long tour of the region to familiarise himself with activities regarding the sector.
The Minister further stated that very soon the Regional Security Council was going to map out strategies to clear of all the encroachers along the forest reserve to ensure the sustainability of Tamale.
“The matter to do with the encroachment of forest reserve in Tamale is a matter we have to deal with and deal with forcefully.
“We are told and it’s very evident that the forest reserves in the Tamale Metropolis are being encroached upon, we cannot permit that,” Mr Jinapor added.
The Northern Region, he said, was fast turning into the centre of commerce and effective trade network for North Africa and as a result, there was the need to preserve the public lands of Tamale and the Northern Region at large.
He further described Tamale as the city at the centre of all developmental affairs in the northern sector, hence any challenge within the metropolis automatically would have shared consequences for the other regions.
The minister, therefore, called for collaboration between traditional authorities, opinion leaders and the government officials in the region to safeguard the area in order to remain relevant in the development agenda of the government.
Mr Jinapor said the government had banned the illegal harvesting of wood and its exportation as well as a soon-to-be rolled-out aggressive afforestation drive to curb deforestation.
On his part, the Northern Regional Minister, Shani Alhassan Shaibu, complained about the wanton encroachment on public lands, forest reserves, and sand winning which had become a challenge in the region.
He said the current partnership with the Ministry would resolve many of the challenges and ensure the protection of the country’s natural resources.
FROM CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS, TAMALE