By Peter Stevenson
There has been an increase in illegal logging recently by people illegally selling firewood, and others who are looking for a way to stay warm, according to the forestry department.
Forestry official, Antonis Horattas, is calling on conscientious citizens and local authorities to report anyone who may be illegally cutting down trees or selling wood and fire wood without a permit.
He said he believes this increase is due to the financial crisis in combination with an increase in fuel and electricity prices which have pushed people to look for alternative methods of heating.
The forestry department, in its efforts to meet the increased demand, has made quantities of firewood available to the public.
Horattas said a law passed by parliament last November which is in line with EU legislation now requires anyone who wants to sell wood and firewood to renew their permit every year.
Anyone found guilty of selling legally-obtained wood or firewood without a permit may serve up to a year in jail or be forced to pay a €5,000 fine or both.
The law also states that any company or person who attempts to sell illegally-obtained wood is committing a criminal offence which is punishable with a jail term no longer than two years or a €40,000 fine.
As well as requiring an annual permit to sell fire wood, traders will also need to keep up-to-date accounts and also a licence to transport the wood, which they need to have with them at all times.
If traders wish to advertise then they must state they are a licensed fire wood seller and have their permit number clearly written on any advertising.
Horattas said that fruit trees are also included in the fire wood category.
He added that those who burn the wood are just as responsible for adhering to the law and anyone who may have fire wood at home will need to prove the wood’s legality.
Failing to do so may result in a fine of up to €1,000, he said.
He called on all those who may buy firewood from traders to demand a receipt upon purchase.
Anyone wishing to learn more information can visit the forestry department website or call 22805514.