A new office complex to oversee the activities of the Forestry Commission in the Eastern Region has been inaugurated in Koforidua.
The complex contains 13 offices, including a 60-seater conference hall, a water storage room and other rooms, together with a vast land for tree planting.
The region has a large stretch of arable lands mostly composed of forest, some of which are reserved.
At a ceremony to inaugurate the facility last Wednesday, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, called on the officials of the Forestry Commission to intensify their activities to protect and preserve the forest, especially the reserves.
49 Forest reserves
He said because the region had 49 forest reserves, the government had put up the regional office to enable the officials of the Forestry Commission to ensure that the forest was properly protected.
Mr Jinapor assured the officials of government’s support in the discharge of their duties without fear or favour.
The new office complex
He told the officials to cordon off the forest reserves to ward off intruders such as illegal miners, illegal chainsaw operators and farmers, especially those cultivating cocoa.
In protecting the forest reserves, the minister reminded officials to conduct their activities within the framework of the rules and regulations of the Forestry Commission, as well as the laws of the country.
Mr Jinapor mentioned the Atiwa Forest Reserve and others which were under attack from illegal miners (galamseyers) and entreated the staff to get rid of such illegal miners.
The minister also asked the staff to prevent politicians and highly placed people from entering the forest reserves to engage in any activity.
Mr Jinapor urged the staff to take advantage of the prevailing rainy season to undertake tree planting exercises for the success of the country's afforestation programme.
He pledged government's commitment in protecting forest reserves not only in the Eastern Region, but the country as a whole.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey, assured the minister that various tree species would be planted on the vast land surrounding the regional office.
That, he said, would demonstrate the commission's preparedness to lead the various communities to plant trees for the successful implementation of the government's afforestation programme in the region.
Mr Allotey said the regional office would oversee the activities of seven forest districts, namely Kade, Oda, Begoro, Donkorkrom, Kyebi, Somanya and Bunso.