The Forestry Commission has commenced an exercise to reclaim 50 hectares of land destroyed by illegal miners in the Apramprama Forest Reserve, near Jacobu in the Amansie Central District in the Ashanti Region.
Under the project, large and deep trenches left by the activities of ‘galamseyers’ will be reclaimed and a tree-planting exercise carried out.
The Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, announced this at a durbar of the chiefs and people of Kobro, one of the fringe communities of the Apramprama Forest Reserve.
Mr Afriyie, together with board members of the commission, led by its Chairman, Brigadier-General Joseph Odei, as well as some journalists, inspected some of the deep trenches left by the activities of illegal miners, some of which had become death traps.
According to the chief executive officer, five companies had also started reclamation activities in the Western Region and that the cost of the projects would be borne by an inter-ministerial committee on galamsey.
He said the commission was bent on reclaiming all lands in forest reserves to ensure the integrity of the forests to protect the environment.
He described as alarming the rate at which forests were allowed to be raped and destroyed by the activities of what he described as “greedy and unscrupulous persons” in broad day light.
Mr Afriyie also disclosed that the commission had been given the green light to employ 15,000 people to replant on degraded lands.
According to him, some 400 men had since been employed and provided with military training to protect the forests.
As part of measures to prevent further destruction of the reserves, he said, security personnel would be positioned around the reserves to protect them after the reclamation exercise.
The Akwamuhene of the Bekwai Traditional Area, Nana Ntiamoah Menko III, commended the government for halting the activities of ‘galamseyers’ and gave an assurance that the chiefs and the people would support the government in its efforts .
He appealed for the provision of social amenities such as hospital beds, good roads and teachers’ accommodation for the community.