Tree seedlings destroyed by unknown persons at Bukunor Forest Reserve

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Unknown persons have damaged over 14,000 Green Ghana tree seedlings at Abokwame, a farming village near Yonguase in the Lower Manya Krobo municipality in the Eastern region. Danya, Mahogany, Cedrela, Prekese, Cibar Minlliner, Papao, and, among other trees, seedlings meant for reforestation of Bukonor Forest Reserve were sprayed with gramoxone weedicide. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr. Ebenezer Agyakwa, the Somanya Forest District manager who also oversees Asuogyaman, Okere, and Akuapem North and South, Lower and Upper Manya Krobo districts, said they suspected farmers in the area who farm in the forest reserve were responsible for the plant destruction. He stated that they intended to implement all of the plantation models this year at the Bukunor Forest Reserve because all 11 forest reserves, including Boti Forest Reserve, Abobeng Forest Reserve, Dawa Forest Reserve, Anyamoni Forest Reserve, and others, are steep and rocky. He said, 'We decided to undertake the tree planting here because the land is flat and fertile to green the area and safeguard the land from illegal farmers encroaching on the forest reserve after it was abandoned due to the construction of Akosombo, which overflowed and took over some part of the forest some years ago. Adding, 'Since the water is not overflowing, we have decided to re-forest the remaining part of the forest reserve.' He said that they delivered the seedlings to the forest reserve last weekend, and by Thursday last week, they had planted seedlings covering five hectares with support from the forest guards, deputy district managers, YEA members, district managers, and other senior staff. He explained that because Friday was a taboo day in Abokwame village and Monday was also the Eid-ul-Adha holiday, they went to the forest to plant the remaining seedlings, only to discover that the plants had been destroyed with weedicide. According to him, the action of the people was to prevent the Forestry Commission from carrying out its mandate of protecting and gre ening the forest. Mr. Agyakwa also stated that when they first started the project, they sensitized the community about modified Taungya systems, but the residents didn't cooperate with them. 'When we informed the chief of the area of the incident, he instructed us to arrest everybody we discovered,' he added. He further said the 1974 forest protection order prohibits anybody from farming or even going into the forest to pluck a leaf without first obtaining an authorization from the Forestry Commission. Meanwhile, residents are cultivating maize and cassava, and farm produce in the forest reserve. He stated that the government has lost around GHc 750,000.00 worth of seedlings and that, because of the actions of the people, they will arrest all of them and destroy all their corn crops and plantations. Mr. Nartey Djornobua, Yonguase's community chief told Ghana News Agency that he had been briefed by forest authorities about the unfortunate circumstance and was disappointed. He stated that forest staff s hould arrest everyone they come across in the vicinity and those individuals found responsible for the act face full rigors of the law. 'I believed that the arrest would help bring to justice those responsible for the seedling destruction,' he said. Ghana's forest resources are valuable national resources because one of the key sources of foreign exchange earnings is the timber resource. From an environmental standpoint, forests are essential for maintaining biological variety, watersheds, windbreaks, and tackling climate change. Source: Ghana News Agency

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