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Oct 4, 2017

Forestry Combats Illegal Logging

Earlier this year, the Forestry Department announced the amendments for forest offences; those changes saw a significant increase in fines for forest related crimes. In light of the approaching logging season, the Forest Department reminds the public that they are enforcing the new amendments for forest offences on persons found logging illegally.  As stated in the act, those found with mahogany, cedar, rosewood, Santa Maria and pine may face prison time or be fined three times the value, as well as a number of other penalties. Today, we caught up with Minister of State in the Ministry of Forestry, Omar Figueroa, who commented on the penalties for illegal loggers.

 

Omar Figueroa

Omar Figueroa, Minister of State, Ministry of Forestry

“That S.I was signed earlier this year, I think it was in January of February and I think we just caught some folks with logs and they were fined pretty hefty; I think it was about twenty-two thousand dollars for mahogany that was out of season, of course.”

 

Reporter

“Can you give us any specifics as to what that amendment entails going forward?”

 

Omar Figueroa

“Well that amendment is set; that is legislation. It is the law now. So, the penalties scale proportionately to the magnitude of the crime. So, if you are caught with some of the valuables like mahogany or rosewood, you will be penalized heavier than if you are caught with logwood that are not as scarce or not as rare.  At first it was across the board. You know if you are caught with a stock of mahogany and you are charged I think about a thousand dollars. That was the maximum fine we were able to charge last year when we made the bust with rosewood; about thirty seven thousand board feet of rose wood and we are only able to charge a thousand dollars. If that same bust were to happen today, thirty seven thousand board feet, I think the penalty would range somewhere around seven hundred thousand dollars.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“You believe these penalties will deter the illegal harvesting or help to stop it?”

 

Omar Figueroa

“I think we are seeing that already, you know. For this year we are seeing that illegal logging are greatly reduced and we need these kinds of penalties to ensure the sustainability of the logging industry which our country was actually built on this timber industry. I believe that we can actually benefit far more than we have been benefitting from these resources and it just comes down to how we manage the timber industry.”

 

To combat illegal and unsustainable logging, the Forestry Department is also instituting stringent measures for planning, processing, and monitoring of logging operations. They hereby notify loggers to submit their applications before the deadline of thirtieth November.

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