The Forestry Commission says it has taken pragmatic steps to safeguard protected areas in the Upper West Region against incidences of wildfires as the harmattan season sets in.
As part of the efforts, the Commission, with the assistance of the Youth in Afforestation, is constructing fire rides as well as doing control burning around the protected areas.
Mr Baba Musa Iddrisu, the Lawra Forest District Manager of the Forestry Commission, disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa.
He said the fire rides and control burning would clear the perimeters of the protected areas off the inflammable materials to prevent wildfire from entering those areas.
He added that the Commission would also engage in regular patrols along the reserves for early detection and prevention of any incident of fire in the protected areas.
He said the harmattan season in the northern parts of the country was noted for rampant bush burning, which served as a threat to forest reserves and ecological ecosystem in the area.
“Our measures are targeted at controlling wildfires in general and particularly within our forest reserves as well as forest plantations which we have established over the period,” Mr Iddrisu explained.
He stated that the Commission was also expecting a van from the Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) in Kumasi with a fire tender and public address system attached, to support its firefight efforts.
The Manager explained that they were collaborating with the Ghana National Fire Service to engage in rigorous public sensitisaton in the communities on the dangers and impact of wildfires on peoples’ health, environment and economy as well as how to bring the menace under control.
“We have formed fire volunteer squads in the forest fringe communities and communities that have significant forest resources and with the help of the Ghana National Fire Services, these volunteers will receive training on the prevention and control of wildfires”, Mr Iddrisu explained.
He indicated that those volunteers, after the training, would be provided with the necessary logistics and equipment, including fire beaters, and safety boots among others to enable them to respond to incidents of fire and bring them under control.
He entreated the public to be conscious of the environment as it provided numerous benefits and thus needed to be jealously guarded saying, “In this part of the country, wildfires are noted to be the number one enemy in terms of destruction of the environment.”
“So, we should always be aware that we are in a season that is high risk (of fire outbreak), anything that we are doing involving fire we need to be extra cautious because momentary loss of consciousness or a minute of carelessness might lead to wildfire that have serious repercussions on our health, or environment and then also our economy. Because we never know the extent these fires can go and the damage that it can cause,” Mr Iddrisu said.