The Forestry Commission says it will deploy armed forest guards to ward off encroachers engaged in illegal mining and logging in reserves.
Chief Executive, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, says 400 guards have already been trained in weapon handling and battling at Asutuare in the Greater Accra Region.
He says half of a total of 15,000 personnel to be recruited next month will be made forest guards.
“What we are going to do is to bring more people, beef them up and beyond that, arm them and give them the training that they require,” he said.
Mr Owusu Afriyie has been leading the Forestry Commission board and chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee to inspect reclamation exercise being undertaken in the Apamprama Forest reserve at Koboro in the Amansie Central District.
Several acres of that virgin forest has been degraded by illegal miners.
“We will not send an army to war and tie their hands at their backs. We are going to give them what it takes to fight the menace. And indeed, I have already trained 400 forest guards at Asutuare trained by the military,” he said.
“They [guards] are very strong; they’ve taken them through weapon handling and everything. I am giving them 1,000 guns. We know some of these galamsey people are holding Pump Action guns.
“I can assure you that the gun I am going to give to them would be better and sharper than the Pump Action gun,” he continued.
Forest reserves are under siege of intruders such as illegal miners, chainsaw operators and hunters who sometimes cause fires.
However, many under-resourced guards who have to confront the perpetrators in charge of large operational areas carry out patrol duties on foot.
“Those days when one person was patrolling is gone forever. For every area that they are going to patrol, at least we will give them some five people to back them up.
“Those days one person mans about 4 miles in and out; 10 kilometres away. Can you imagine 10 kilometres doing to and fro on foot?, ” the Forestry Commission CEO quizzed.
Mr Owusu Afriyie says the era of such resource constraints that impede the Commission’s work is over.
“They are going to be armed to the teeth…For every area that they are going to patrol, at least we will give them some five people to back them up,” he revealed.