Some farmers, mostly from Apoli Zevor in the Akyemmansa District, have destroyed about 100 acres of the Birim Forest Reserve and planted cocoa and food crops in it.
This came out when Ms Dorothy Dampson, the Akyem Oda District Forestry Manager, led a combined team of military and police personnel with some forest guards to destroy seven acres of the illegal farms on Thursday.
She said the action was the second phase of an exercise to weed out illegal farmers from the reserve.
Ms Dampson told the GNA that a similar exercise was conducted in 2008 and 2009 but was halted half way and that gave the farmers the opportunity to expand their illegal farms.
“This time round we will sustain the exercise to ensure that all illegal farmers are flushed out from the reserve,” she said and added that farmers caught farming in any part of the reserve would be arrested and prosecuted.
Ms Dampson said there is “no admitted farm” in the reserve, which means that the farmers were operating in the area illegally.
She said after clearing the farms, people would be employed from the fringe communities to plant trees in the reserve under the Government’s National Forest Plantation Development Programme.
Mrs Dampson expressed worry about the rate at which the forests were being depleted and called for concerted efforts from chiefs, opinion leaders, stakeholders and forest fringe communities to help save the situation.
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