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Forest reserves threatened by Fulani herdsmen in Bono region

Tens of thousands of cattle have virtually taken over five out of the seven forest reserves within the Sunyani forest district, contrary to Forest Protection ACT 1974, (ACT 243) as amended by the Forest Protection ACT, 2002 (ACT 624).

Per the ACT, it is completely illegal for any domestic animal to graze in the forest but the reverse is the current situation in the five affected forest reserves namely; Tain 1, Tain 2, Yaya, Nsemire and Sawsaw; all in the Bono region.

In recent past, some nomadic herdsmen, mainly from Burkina Faso and other neighbouring countries are said to have invaded these reserves with their cattle and succeeded in destroying large hectares of land, food crops and trees planted under the Green Ghana programme by government and several other investments by both government and other agencies in the forest sub-sector.

Their activities are therefore posing a serious threat to all investments being made under the Green Ghana programme, the Youth in Afforestation initiative under the YEA, the Commercial Plantation Development project, the Forest Development Programme and the Modified Tonja system, among others, which are all geared toward afforestation of parts of the country.

To halt this menace, the Omanhene of Berekum, Daasebre Amankona Diawuo, is collaborating with the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission and the Bono Regional Security Council to mount sustained pressure on all nomadic herdsmen, also called Fulani herdsmen, to vacate all forest reserves in the area immediately.

Shoot and kill

The Omanhene, addressing a News Conference at his Palace in Berekum last Tuesday, stated that a Security Task Force led by the military had been constituted to flush these herdsmen, who have been engaging in all kinds of illegalities over the years, from the forest reserves to save them from further depletion.

According to him, the Task Force has been mandated to shoot and kill any cattle found in any forest reserve during their operation.

He therefore asked anyone who was involved or behind the activities of the herdsmen to, as a matter of urgency, evacuate all his cattle from the forest reserves in his own interest.

“If anyone want a land outside the forest for use and development as a modern cattle ranch with boreholes and irrigation facilities, that person can come to Nananom for a place for such a purpose. In the absence of that we are not going to sit down for our forest to be destroyed by the activities of these herdsmen”, he stated.

He expressed worry about the rapid increase of Fulani herdsmen in his traditional area in recent past and stressed his resolve to ensure that they are flushed out of the area in no time.

Mr. Francis Brobbey, the Sunyani District Manager of Forest Services of the Forestry Commission said following the government’s afforestation drive since 2002, some investments have been made in the sector to protect the country’s forest cover.

However, he observed, all the gains being made could be eroded if urgent steps are not taken to halt the invasion of illegal activities such as grazing and bush burning in forest reserves.

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