Community Members of Kayaro and Nankong in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region together with the Community Resources Management Area, (CREMA) assisted the Game and Wildlife Officers to make the arrest.
The Five chainsaw operators were caught logging Rosewood trees, which are illegal.
The arrest was facilitated by the Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGIIS), an Environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) that advocates against mismanagement of the environment.
The five illegal chainsaw operators, who had been handed to the Navrongo Police pending further investigation and possible prosecution, are Masawudu Abu, Masawudu Bukari, Ebenezer Osei, Bismark Anane and Sulemana Jemeriu.
In addition to the arrests, the tools they used in felling the trees including chainsaw machines, a wood mizer, and an articulated truck loaded with the Rosewood logs were impounded by the community members.
Mr Julius Awaregya, Coordinator for ORGIIS, speaking to journalists, said his outfit lodged a formal complaint at the Regional Directorate of the Forest Commission and the Kassena-Nankana West District Assembly who were mandated to protect the reserves but they denied having knowledge of the activities of the illegal loggers”.
He expressed regret that the quantum of destruction done by the activities of the illegal operators would not only have a bigger negative impact on the climate but would affect biodiversity and the livelihoods of the people because majority of the community members were farmers.
The Rosewood tree takes many years to mature and it is in high demand on the international market, particularly China, where it is used to process finished wood products such as furniture, he said.
The Sissili North Forest Reserve is linked to the Sisala East District in the Upper West Region which fall within the Western Wildlife Corridors and linked to the Mole National Park and the Nazinga Forest of Burkina Faso that harbours animals such as elephants, antelopes and leopards as well as variety of medicinal plants.
According to the operators, they were only hired as labourers by their ‘Boss’ to conduct the exercise and further alleged that they had a permit from the Paramount Chief of Kayoro for the business.
Conducting newsmen to some of the communities including the Wuroo and Nakong Forest Reserves, which form part of the Western Wildlife Corridor, quantities of the Rosewoods were seen packed on the ground, while others were loaded into containers in articulated trucks ready to be transported to the ports for export.
Mr Munkaila Karimu, an articulated truck driver with registration number GT 6455-15 who had loaded a full container of the Rosewood to transport to Tema was prevented by the community members, CREMA, and the Game and Wildlife Officers and some staff of ORGIIS from driving away.
The Kayoro-pio, Pe Oscar B. Tiyiamo II, the Paramount Chief of the Kayoro Traditional Area, denied having knowledge of the presence of the illegal loggers even though his wife was contracted to cook for the chain saw and tractor operators engaged in the business.
The Regional Director of the Forest Commission, Mr James Ware, told the GNA that all concessions put up for auction was to end by December 31, 2016 and so any other business regarding the cutting or transporting of Rosewood in the forest were illegal.
He denied receiving any report on the current activities of the operators as alleged by an official of ORGIIS and mentioned some of the companies registered to do such businesses as Time Out Concepts, Kofi Gyemo Wood Company and the Savanna Wood Company.
Further investigations conducted by the GNA revealed that similar nefarious activities were going on at Naga in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal, Bawku West District, Bawku Municipal, Talensi, Nabdam Builsa North and South Districts.