A forest guard at the Bia Resource Reserve in the Western North Region, was on Thursday night shot and injured by a suspected hunter.
The guard, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, was protecting the forest, where illegal felling of trees has increased.
The CEO, speaking to the Ghanaian Times on the sidelines of a three-day meeting on the felling of Rosewood in Accra, yesterday, said the guard was currently receiving medical attention.
Mr Owusu Afriyie indicated that the National Security has been engaged to conduct investigations into the causes of the incident, and arrest the perpetrators.
The meeting was a high level regional dialogue on enhancing the protection and conservation of endangered species in West Africa which focused on Rosewood.
The event that was organised by the African Union Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Programme, sought to find ways to address illegal exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, especially forests, wildlife and fisheries.
The latest incident, Mr Afriyie said, was the second deadly attack on a forest guard this month, following a similar one at the Mole National Park in the Savannah Region.
He indicated that the commission would step up its security operations and collaborate with other agencies to deal with violent attacks.
The Commission, Mr Afryie said, was seeking financial clearance from the Ministry of Finance to engage about 1,000 personnel to improve protection of Ghana’s forest, which was currently being depleted by unscrupulous individuals.
He reiterated government’s commitment to enforcing laws on the harvesting, processing and transportation of Rosewood and timber, adding that “we will ensure all those who flout the laws face the appropriate sanctions.”
Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, said, as part of efforts to address Rosewood exploitation across the country, government had suspended the issuance of salvage permits.
This, he said, included conveyance permits on Rosewood and processing of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permits for the export of Rosewood.
In the long term, he stated that government was in the process of developing a policy on tree tenure and benefit sharing for trees outside the forest to motivate farmers to resist illegal exploitation of Rosewood and other tree resources on their farms and stop speculative felling by illegal operators.
Additionally, he said, it was government’s plan to establish plantations of Rosewood and promote local processing to add value to the material.
In this regard, the Deputy Minister noted that the Ministry was collaborating with the Forest Research Institute of Ghana to develop fast growing species of Rosewood suitable for the plantation development and rehabilitation of degraded landscape in the northern sector.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS