Illegal miners invade Bosomtwe Forest Reserve
The Bekwai District Office of the Forestry Services Division (FSD) is on a manhunt for illegal miners who have invaded the Bosomtwe Forest Reserve and destroyed a cedrela, a type of mahogany species, plantation.
The illegal miners, who use heavy-duty machinery, have also destroyed farm lands and dug holes in the forest reserve close to a town called Minti in the Bosome Freho District.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Bekwai District Forest Manager, Mr Rexford Twum-Damoah, said upon a tip off, a team of forest guards went on a swoop but did not meet the illegal miners.
However, he said, the team managed to confiscate some of their items, including gallons of fuel and pumping machines.
He said the team also removed the control board of the excavator the illegal miners used, thereby rendering it immobile.
According to him, the miners had destroyed close to 0.5 hectares of the forest reserve, saying they “were working from outside into the reserve.”
So far, he said, no arrest had been made and the team was still investigating the encroachment, adding that with the help of community members, “we will be able to apprehend them”.
Mr Twum-Damoah said entering a forest reserve and mining without a permit was a criminal act for which, when the perpetrators were arrested, they would be made to face the full rigours of the law.
The chiefs and the elders of Minti said they were helpless in the face of the illegal mining taking place in the community and blamed the ineptitude of the political authority for being the cause of the activity.
The people of the town pointed accusing fingers at some Chinese for being the brains behind the wanton destruction of their farmlands, but the District Forest Manager said from the information he had gathered, “the illegal miners are local people”.
The youth of the town also pointed accusing fingers at the District Chief Executive, Mr Yaw Danso, who they said was in bed with the illegal miners who were destroying the environment, as the assembly had failed to deal with reports of the activities of the illegal miners that were sent to it.
However, Mr Danso denied knowledge of any activity of illegal miners in the Bosomtwe Forest Reserve.
He said he only got to know of the activities of the illegal miners through the media last Monday.
“I am unaware of the forest destruction, but I believe such issues should be reported to the Forestry Commission, since it is directly in charge of the forest,’’ he said.