Authorities are warning the public that cutting trees to be used in Easter bonfires is illegal.
With Easter around the corner, many rummage around for wood to burn in the massive bonfires, also illegal, lit usually on Easter Saturday as part of the seasonal custom of ‘lambradjia’, the symbolic burning of Judas Iscariot.
The forestry department said that each year, around Easter, there is increased illegal tree felling activity due to the increased need for firewood for bonfires.
For the cutting of forest, as well as some ornamental trees, wherever they are located, a written permit is required from the forestry department, the authority said, pointing out that according to the law, tree-cutting is punished with a fine of up to €5,000 and/or up to one-year imprisonment.
The department also called on local authorities, groups and individuals to immediately report such activity to them or the police.
But cutting or uprooting wild flowers and bushes in forests is also not advised since many species are endemic and thus protected by law, it said.
Strovolos Municipality said in another announcement that lighting fires and burning items within municipal boundaries is illegal and offenders are subject to an €860 fine and/ or up to two months in prison.
The local authority urged its residents to avoid burning any objects and called on professionals that use wood for their work, such as wooden mould and furniture to protect their property since exposed wood is easy prey for those looking around for materials for the bonfires.
The municipality also urged residents to immediately call its on-call crews on 99 643044 and 99 569722 or the police if they see areas where wood and other objects are stored aimed for bonfires of if they see anyone trying to cut down trees.
It also stressed the importance of caution when out and about in the countryside or forest areas.
“Due to the increased vegetation the risk of fire eruption and spread is increased, therefore, our behaviour is a catalyst,” the forestry department said.
For that reason, activities that concern lighting fires or using equipment and machinery that produce flames must be avoided, it said, as well as throwing cigarette butts and matches. Perpetrators are subject to a fine up to €50,000 and/or imprisonment up to 10 years.
The forestry department urged members of the public to immediately alert authorities in case they see smoke or fire near or inside the forest and call the nearest forestry station, or at 1407 or 112.