The Lawra Forest District has trained 64 fire volunteers in the Daffiama-Bussie-Issa (DBI) and Wa East Districts to complement the Commission’s efforts in protecting the forest reserves against wildfires.
The volunteers, trained by personnel from the Upper West Regional Command of the Ghana National Fire Service, were provided with coordination including fire beaters, safety boots, whistles, and cutlasses to aid them in their work.
They were drawn from 11 forest fringe communities in the forest district-five communities in the DBI District and six communities in the Wa East.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after the training at Joliyiri in the DBI District, Mr Baba Musa Iddrisu, the Lawra Forest District Manager, said the training was under the World Bank-funded Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining (GLRSM) project implemented by the Forestry Commission to secure biodiversity conservation.
He said the project, among other things, was to plant woodlots in communities to help protect agricultural lands towards ensuring sustainable agricultural production as well as protect the forests reserves to provide the functions to the communities and the country at large.
“The major threat to the project is fire. We have established a green break around the periphery of the forest reserves but occasionally fire gets into the reserve and condemns everything.
We have established green breaks around the reserves to prevent fire outside from getting into the reserve,” Mr Iddrisu explained.
He observed that fire sometimes occurred within the reserve due to people passing through the forest while smoking or having fired on them, and some people also deliberately set the forest ablaze.
Mr Iddrisu said that necessitated the need to form the Fire Volunteer Squads to intervene and put off the fire when it occurred.
Mr Isaac Kofi Gyekye, the Assistant District Manager, of Lawra Forest District, entreated the fire volunteers to exhibit a commitment to the work and not to be motivated by financial gains as the success in protecting the forest would be to their benefit.
He said they could engage in activities such as beekeeping in the forest, which would serve as a source of income for them if they showed commitment and protected the forest.
Divisional Officer II (DOII) Mr Adams Issahaku, Sub-station Commander, Upper West Regional Command of the GNFS, took the volunteers through the dangers of fire to their health, economic and social lives.
He advised the public to be cautious in handling things that could generate heat as it could cause a fire.
“The rampant bush burning is denying us a lot from the ecosystem. If you look at the cycle of sustainable livelihood the natural environment plays a vital role, in which we survive on.
To reduce poverty and hunger, we should stop burning the bush,” DOII Mr Issahaku explained.