The Forestry Commission has ordered the suspension of all reclamation exercises in forest reserves across the country.
The suspension, according to the Commission, is to allow the review and stock-taking of operations and activities of private contractors engaged in the reclamation project.
The project became necessary following the devastation caused portions of forest reserves by illegal miners.
Chief Executive, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, told Nhyira FM letters nullifying all permits of engagement were sent in May to the contractors.
In a letter dated November 3, 2017, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources directed the Forestry Commission to undertake the reclamation and cover ‘death-trap’ open pits as part of the Forest Investment Programme(FIP).
“You should immediately take all measures to reclaim all affected forests to prevent further loss of lives,” the letter stated.
The letter by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources was in response to complaints by some traditional leaders in communities hard hit by illegal mining (or galamsey) operations.
With clear-cut rules, reclamation activities were carried out in forest reserves in Ashanti, Western and Eastern Regions over 12 months.
However, small-scale and even illegal miners are strongly opposed to the initiative, with accusations the Forestry Commission is engaged in mining in the reserves.
Mr. Owusu Afriyie says the Forestry Commission’s monitoring and surveillance have exposed some companies that breached the rules of engagement.
The Commission, he revealed has since May this year suspended all reclamation exercises to enable it to take stock of its activities.
“Because of the constant reports that we were getting of abuse, we have stopped everybody from undertaking the reclamation till such time that we can review the process and to see those who are doing a good job, let them go back and continue to do a good job and then those who are doing activities that are inimical to the forestry and to the interest of the Forestry Commission to be out,” he explained.
He revealed that some companies have been granted permission to leave a small workforce in the forest to protect machines and equipment that could not be moved during the rainy season.
While denying wrong-doing on the part of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Owusu Afriyie says he is satisfied with work done so far in reclaiming the land.