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Seventeen trucks carrying illegally obtained lumber have been seized by a task force set up by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The lumber, which has an estimated value of GH13,600, was seized in the past week when the task force carried out its maiden operations. The task force, formed by the Security Sub-Committee on Lands and Natural Resources, was established under request of the Forestry Commission (FC) following a dramatic increase in illegal chainsaw operations in the Greater Accra Region.

The Committee, which is a joint initiative between National Security, Ministry for Interior, police and the FC, is taking a coordinated approach to tackling the problem. Executive Director of the FC, Mr Raphael Yeboah, said that the situation had reached the point of being a national crisis, with the present seizure representing only "the tip of the iceberg." "In terms of their modus operandi, they have been very militant," Mr Yeboah said of those carrying out the illegal operations.

"Key forest reserves are being taken over by these chainsaw operations, leading to a complete degradation of resources," he added. When asked by the Times how successful the crackdown had been so far, Director of Operations of the FC, Mr A.A. Boadu, said that they were satisfied with how things were going and announced the commission's intention to establish similar task forces throughout the country.

Mr Yeboah said with the eradication of the illegal chainsaw operations trade, there would be the need to generate alternative livelihoods for those who depend on it including loggers, sawyers and transporters. Mr Yeboah stated that around 20 people had been arrested in relation to the recent seizure, with many more arrests expected to be made as a result of ongoing investigations. Those arrested will be prosecuted under the Timber Resources Management Act 1997.
Source: Times

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