Business News of 2014-05-05

Loggers destroy farms with impunity at Afram Plains

Logging is a major threat to farming activities in the Kwahu Afram Plains South District, the District Co-ordinating Director (DCD), Mr Kwaku Domfeh, has disclosed.

He said the destruction of farms and farm products by the loggers was unimaginable, describing it as unacceptable. Mr Domfeh told the Daily Graphic that the loggers entered the forests with permits, but they destroyed everything on their way “with impunity, caring very little about the harm they are causing the farmers.”

Accusation

He accused the district officers of the Forestry Commission of allegedly collaborating with loggers to destroy farms and property. Mr Domfeh said, for instance, he had to protest to the regional officer of the commission after the officers at the district refused to honour invitations by the district to discuss the activities of the loggers.

“There was even a time the District Security Committee invited the officer at Tease to a meeting and he refused and had to be forced to attend that meeting and surprisingly, when he finally attended it emerged that he was equally having a number of challenges, which he shared with the committee,” he said.

He wondered why a forestry officer should be afraid to attend an assembly meeting if he had nothing to hide. Mr Domfeh, therefore, appealed to the Forestry Commission to regulate activities of loggers in the district to save farmers the agony of having to lose their farm products to logging.

Revenue

He noted that apart from the destruction of farms, the loggers were also denying the district of the needed revenue by not securing the logging and conveyance permits from the district.

Mr Domfeh said the district had to protest a decision by the commission that loggers entering the forest in the district secure their logging and conveyance permits from Agogo, “because part of the forest in our district belongs to the Agogo Forestry Area.”

“We really had to protest before the loggers were directed to secure their permits from the Donkorkrom Forestry Office,” he said, adding that that enabled the district to gain some revenue from the loggers.

Monitoring & task force

He said in addition to that, the district had also stepped up monitoring efforts to ensure that the loggers “pay something” to the district before conveying the logs.

The district, he said had also formed a task force made up of opinion leaders and assembly members based at Maame Krobo and a barrier at Dome to impound loggers without permits.

Mr Domfeh was pleased that since those steps were taken about a month ago, the loggers had started complying by going in for the conveyance permit from Donkorkrom, the district capital of the Kwahu Afram Plains North.

He said the district had sounded a warning that it would not allow further destruction of the forest, especially a species that was dominant in the district, stressing, “if they start cutting those species, this place will be turned into a desert.”

Mr Domfeh said he had attended a meeting in Accra during which he informed the Forestry Commission that the district would not allow any logger to cut that particular species.

The DCD recalled that the activities of the loggers were becoming alarming in the district, which prompted senior officers from the headquarters of the commission to visit the district to streamline their activities. “They came here in their numbers including their national boss to streamline the logging activities. They felt that it was becoming too much,” he disclosed.

On illegal logging, he said as far as the district was concerned, all those logging did not have permits and even though those allegations were ripe, the district had not apprehended any person logging without a permit. His concern was that even if truly there was illegal logging, that might be done in the night.

Touching on charcoal burning, Mr Domfeh said “charcoal burning is a very serious issue here. They do not discriminate. They cut down any tree that comes their way. In fact, the rainfall pattern has changed and we are attributing it to charcoal burning and logging”.

Source: graphic.com
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