District Managers of the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission (FC) who fail to promptly report illegal mining activities in forest reserves within their jurisdictions risk severe sanctions.
Mr John Allotey, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FC, who issued the warning, said the Commission would no longer accept the excuse that District Managers were not aware of illegal activities in Forest reserves.
The CEO, who was addressing District Managers from mining districts at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu Municipality, urged the officers to step up their game as Managers of the reserves to clamp down on the menace or face sanctions.
The meeting, which was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu Bio, and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry, Mr Francis Manu-Adabo, was to deliberate on strategies to fight illegal mining in forest reserves.
“If you fail to see activities of illegal miners in the reserves and take the necessary steps to fight it, sanctions would be applied because the essence of being there would have been defeated,” he cautioned.
Mr Alottey urged the officers to inform their Regional Managers immediately they picked information on illegal activities in the forests for swift action to be taken to halt the canker.
They must also work closely with Municipal and District Chief Executives (MDCEs) and the Paramount Chiefs in their areas to ensure the involvement of key stakeholders in the fight against illegal mining.
The MDCEs, he noted, doubled as the Heads of the District and Municipal Security Committees hence engaging them could go a long way to address the perennial problem.
He said the Commission was taking steps to beef up the Rapid Response Teams as it engaged other relevant stakeholders to complement efforts of Forestry officials at the forefront of the battle to overcome the menace.
Mr Owusu Bio said Ghana was at the crossroad in the fight against illegal mining and urged every citizen to get involved in the national interest and for posterity.
He said illegal mining, until recent years, was known be thriving outside forest reserves, but the rate at which the perpetrators were targeting the reserves needed a collective effort to tackle the nefarious activities of the perpetrators.
The Deputy Minister, therefore, charged the District Managers to do more as frontline officers at the District level to save the forests from wanton degradation.
“Let us all rise to the challenge because it is unacceptable for those of us in Accra to receive reports about illegal mining at your backyard without your knowledge,” he said.