The forest and wildlife resources of Ghana have come under intense encroachment and destruction especially, in forest reserves and wildlife protected areas.
As a result of this, the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), established by the Forestry Commission (FC) as part of its strategy to combat illegalities in its forests and wildlife protected areas, has undertaken a series of monitoring activities to clamp down on illegal activities in forest reserves across the country.
The RRU has a total of 18 teams and a coordinating team. Each of the 18 teams has 7 members who operate in forest reserves and wildlife hotspots.
From April to June 2023, all 18 teams of the RRU were deployed to operate in 15 Forest Districts, five regional offices, one protected area and one zoo.
Essentially, the teams were deployed to deal with issues of illegal farms, chainsaw and mining operations, illegal conveyance of lumber, amongst others.
Within a period of three months, the RRU has made great strides in the fight against illegalities in forest reserves and wildlife protected areas.
The team has seized a total of 26,247 assorted lumber from forest reserves and illegal conveyance, evacuated 5 logs and 933 poles, arrested 17 vehicles and 4 tractors for various forest and wildlife offenses.
The RRU has also seized 58 chainsaw machines, 39 power plants, 25 barrels of diesel, arrested 143 suspects for various forest and wildlife offenses, destroyed 43 excavators and demolished 287 structures that housed illegal miners.
These activities amongst others, have generally helped in minimising poaching, encroachment and other illegalities in forest reserves and protected areas.
In a statement, Mr. Samuel Darko-Akonor, the Coordinator for RRU, commended management of the Forest Services Division (FSD), for the recent training of some FSD field staff by the Military and urged for their immediate deployment into Forest Reserves.
He also appealed for more logistics for effective monitoring.
He added that, the performance of the RRU in the past 3 months has been impressive and they hope to continue and do more in the coming months.
“We are appealing to government to give approval to the Forestry Commission to recruit and train more qualified personnel into the Rapid Response Unit of the Forestry Commission, and also resource the unit to help fight these serious environmental crimes that threaten our future sustenance”, he concluded.