Juabeso-bia Forest District is killing two birds with one stone by converting timber off-cuts into school furniture and fighting extreme wildfire.
Timber off-cuts are leftovers or waste in the forest after licensed timber dealers have finished their final production and processing of timber.
These are what forest experts say fuel wildfires in the forest for days leading to its destruction.
The district forestry commission has started identifying the timber off-cuts in the various reserves to convert them into furniture for schoolchildren.
District forest Manager, Mark Aidoo says the idea came to mind when the communities approached him for wood for furniture.
“As part of our monitoring exercise, we travel to communities and communities’ leaders have been requesting wood for furniture.”
Mr Aidoo says he did not look elsewhere as many timber off-cuts could be converted into furniture.
300 school furniture have already been produced by the commission to be distributed to schools ahead of their reopening.
Mr Aidoo says it is part of efforts to address the lack of furniture syndrome in four political districts under the forest district in western north region.
The utilizable off-cuts are between 3 to 5 meters and can be found in either the forest or various sawmills.
What the Forestry Commission currently works on is about 3 metres long of Sapele lying in the middle of Krokosua hill forest reserve.
Mr Aidoo says species such as Sapele, Ofram, Danta among others are many of the timber off-cuts in several forest reserves in the country, perhaps left to decompose, but unfortunately become enemies of the forest by fuelling wildfire.
The district forestry commission says utilizing them is the more perfect way of addressing issues of wildfire and the lack of furniture.
The commission is therefore collaborating with licensed sawmills operators to produce the furniture for the schools.
One of them, which belongs to Mr Enoch Okyere, has volunteered his resources to help the agenda of “No More Sitting on Bare Floor” campaign.
The cost of processing of the timber off-cuts into furniture is fully funded by the sawmill operators.
Enoch Okyere says it cost them GH₵10, 000 to produced 200 dual desks. But that isn’t Enoch and his team’s concern. They want see an improvement in the educational standard in the areas to be bolster for them.
“We made 200 desk, and it took us 21 days to finish them. We had to engage more people in order to meet deadline. We expect that our effort will rekindle the spirit of the children to learn hard and the teachers to be diligent in teaching them so that we benefit from our effort in future.”
Another sawmill operator who prefers to remain anonymous executed the remaining 100.
The 300 dual desks would be distributed to various schools in Juaboso, Bia West and east districts.
19, 787 schoolchildren in these districts do not have furniture to sit and learn.
Juaboso has over 11, 900 population of schoolchildren but over 3,600 of them do not have tables and chairs in school.
Bia West District had over 15, 000 school children with more 10, 000 furniture deficit while Bia East has little over 11, 000 with over 6, 000 who sit on bare floor to learn.
A school like Agoogyikrom D/A, Yamatwa Nkwanta D/A, and Kwasare Nkwanta D/A are the most affected in the districts.
Education authorities say the intervention by the Forestry Commission is timely.
Education officer in charge of welfare at Bia East District, Joseph Apraku says the situation has been challenging and has affected the quality of education.
“The standard of education has been affected,” he said.
Mr Apraku says the Forestry Commission’s efforts are commendable and well-appreciated.
District Forest Manager Mr Aidoo pledged to use every available resources and time at their disposal to address the furniture deficit.
He says it is the responsibility of every Ghanaian to complement the efforts of government to provide quality education to school children adding that he feels satisfied in seeing his dream coming into reality.
The governing New Patriotic Party Parliamentary Candidate for Bia East, Nicholas Niber praised Mr Aidoo and his team for such a great initiative that will remain unforgettable in the minds of the school children.
Mr Niber has also pledged to provide an extra 300 furniture for the schools.