Two weeks of indiscriminate bush fires have destroyed forest reserves and tree plantations worth about GHc1.1 million within the Juaso Forest District.
Mr. Seth Kissi, the District Manager of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission (FC), who disclosed this, said over 100 hectares of forest cover had been lost to bush fires in the last two weeks.
He was addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of Tokwai, Banka, Kokoben, Akokobenom and Kpone Praso organised by his outfit to educate them on bush fires at Tokwai near Banka in the Asante Akim South District.
The visibly worried District Manager could not hide his frustration when he recounted how fire swept through a tree plantation project funded by the Netherland Government in the Dome River Forest Reserve.
He said a total of GHc68,000.00 had been pumped into the project, which went down the drain at the instance of the selfish interest of a few people.
He noted that the nefarious activities being perpetrated in forest reserves across the country was costing the nation billions of cedis and required a concerted effort from stakeholders to protect the forest, adding that the preservation of the forest was a shared responsibility.
Mr. Kusi bemoaned the wanton destruction of the forest, which he said, served as source of livelihood for majority of the people living in forest fringe communities and charged members of the communities to lead in protecting the forest.
He explained that Tokwai was strategically chosen for the education programme because the community was located between the Mirensa Hills Forest Reserve and Pra Anum Forest Reserve and urged the chief and the people to help protect the two reserves.
He proposed the drawing of a District Forest Development Plan, which would comprehensively address the depletion of forest reserves through bush fires and activities of chainsaw operators and called on the District Assembly to initiate the move.
Nana Gyasi Amoako Adabo II, a representative from the regional office, said the cause of bush fires were as a result of human activities hence it was possible to halt the menace if people change their attitude.
He noted how years of depletion of reserves in the Agogo area had resulted in grass taking over the reserves, thereby attracting Fulani Herdsmen to the area and implored the people to see the forest as their own asset which they must protect.
Mr. Isaac Obeng Aboagye, Deputy District Coordinating Director, pledged the Assembly’s commitment to support any move to fight bush fires, saying that it was incumbent on the communities to protect the forests since they also had stake in them. GNA