The Forestry Commission Task Force has arrested ten persons for farming in the Afrensu Brouhuma Forest Reserve in Offinso in the Ashanti Region.
The intruders have also built homes in what is supposed to be a virgin forest.
Routine patrol by forest guards uncovered the illegal activity of the farmers.
About fifty structures were destroyed during the operation. The Commission also seized over 50 chainsaw machines.
The Forestry Commission also impounded five motorbikes, three tricycles and arrested eight persons.
The law prohibits the construction of permanent structures and establishment of farms in forest reserves without permission but effects of illegal farming and chainsaw operators have depleted parts of the forest.
Ghana`s forest cover depleted from 8.2 million hectares in the 1980s to 1.6 million hectares in 2018.
Attempts by the Forestry Commission to restore degraded forest reserves in the country have been undermined by intruders.
Some forest guards have become targets for miscreants who sometimes kill them and the lucky ones maimed them for life.
The Offinso District Forest Manager, Adu-Baiden Kobina, said they realized that there are a lot of encroachment on the nine forest reserves in the area.
“So we set up a programme to evict farmers and also destroy structures within the reserve. We started with the sensitization with the various fringe communities to let them understand the extent of destruction and the need to recover forest reserves within the area.”
He added: “After sensitization, we embarked on an operation with them on eviction of illegal farmers and destruction of structures within the reserves. My people did very well and within the period of the operation we were able to arrest ten farmers farming illegally and within that same period we destroyed 50 structures within the reserves.”
According to Mr Adu-Baiden, the operation has yielded positive result in the area.
On the chainsaw operations, he said they are doing their possible best to reduce it in the area.
“For us we are a very young team in the District so as soon as we arrest you we prosecute. We realize that within the period that I took over from my predecessor to date because of the series of prosecution we have, the rate at which young guys were felling trees in the reserve have reduced to the barest minimum.”
He said within the spate of six months from June to December last year, they have been able to retrieve more than 50 chainsaw machines from operators within the forest reserves.
By Benjamin Aidoo|3news.com|Ashanti Region|Ghana