About 40,000 pieces of illegal lumber have been intercepted by the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission in the Goaso Forest District of the Ahafo Region.
The Area Manager of TIDD, Abban Kofi Bonsu, said the pieces of lumber were auctioned to the tune of GH¢350,000 after getting a court permit.
Some unscrupulous persons have been engaging in illegal lumbering by invading the forest district and felling timber indiscriminately in recent times.
They operate mainly deep in the night and have been able to outwit the regional and district forestry commission, thereby depleting the forest at a faster rate.
As a result, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, aka Sir John, formed the ‘Operation Halt’ taskforce to check the activities of illegal chainsaw operators and timber companies in the area.
The Head of ‘Operation Halt’ taskforce, George Osei, said, “If we’re not careful, the country could lose its forest cover which used to be 8.1 million hectares but reduced to less than one million hectares.”
“We’ll not allow the rest of the forest cover to be depleted further. There are a lot of people who are engaging in illegal operations in the forest. They don’t have permit to cut trees and it is getting out of hand,” Mr. Osei added.
“The districts are unable to contain the situation so our CEO has detailed us to assist them to stop the illegal lumbering, especially in the Goaso District. We shall be going to other areas,” he pointed out.
He disclosed that the taskforce intercepted 23 trucks loaded with illegal lumber, but the team was unable to get the chainsaw operators who are behind the cutting of trees, because they always escape and leave the logs behind.
Mr Osei said owners of the trucks would be processed for court for flouting the law.