Sawmills have begun springing up near forest reserves in Goaso and Nkawie forest districts, a member of Forest Watch Ghana, Mr. Owusu Asare has stated.
He disclosed this during Forest Watch Ghana’s 2016 3rd General Meeting held in Larteh in the Eastern Region.
According to him, the availability of sawmills near the reserves makes it easier for illegal loggers to transport wood without any interrogation from authorities mainly because they are able to mill the logs into lumber before transporting them.
“There are no inscriptions on the logs. The chainsaw operators mill these logs into lumber before transporting them,” he said.
He noted that the chainsaw business is booming in Goaso and Nkawie forest districts as a result of this development. He also alledged that foreigners, including Burkinabes have joined in the business and are even suspected to be the financiers.
Chainsaw milling is environmentally unfriendly and contributes significantly to deforestation in the country. Chainsaw milling also results in loss of huge tax revenues annually in Ghana.
Due to these reasons, in 1997 (Act 547 of 199) and 1998 (and L.I. 1649) the government banned the use of chainsaw for lumber production as well as the sale and use of chainsaw lumber in Ghana. This was after the failure of the Trees and Timber (Chainsaw Operations) Regulations, 1991 legislative instrument 1518.
Under these regulations (the 1991 regulations), the chainsaw operators were legally recognised and their activities were supposed to be regulated by the District Assemblies and District Forestry Officers at the local level.
The system led to indiscriminate felling of trees raising concerns about resource depletion and environmental degradation. This resulted in the imposition of ban on chainsaw lumber production and trade.