Ten times larger compensation fines will be levied for illegal felling2014-03-07
Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis has made fines for environmental damage caused by illegal felling ten times larger. From now on, such damages will be calculated according to a new method ratified by the minister for calculating the damage done to a forest's environment by natural and legal persons engaged in illegal activities.
“The larger fines will deal another blow to violators. This will strongly impact malicious efforts to ravage and steal from our forests, which are treasures that belong to all of Lithuania and which are protected through the considerable efforts of our environmental officers,” - said Valentinas Mazuronis.
Before, these fines had been set by the Government. However, beginning on March 5th, this responsibility has been handed over to the minister of environment.
The new fines are expected to lighten violators' wallets. For example: until now, the compensation fines for a single cubic meter of illegally clear-cut forest stand in a so-called farm forest was 40 Lt. This fine will now be 400 Lt. However, that is not yet the final sum. The compensation will be calculated by multiplying it according to a certain coefficient. For example, violations involving illegally felled or otherwise destroyed or damaged trees in half-aged forests will receive a coefficient of 1.5. A violator who illegally fells a single cubic meter of trees in this scenario will have to pay 600 (400x1.5) Lt in environmental compensation fees. If this violator were to fell 30 cubic meters of such trees (which is how much would fit in a truck with a trailer), they will have to pay damage compensation fines to the tune of 18 thousand Lt.
One of the most important ways to fight illegal felling is intensive preventative efforts by forest protection officers. The first strong blow to violators was dealt last fall, when Minister Valentinas Mazuronis gave national forest officers the same rights as national environmental protection inspectors. Now, at any hour, they can stop and inspect vehicles if they suspect that the lumber and other forest resources that they are transporting were obtained without permission.
Last year, national forest officers reported 351 illegal forest felling incidents in which a total of 7.8 thousand cubic meters of lumber were cut. 838 individuals were punished for illegal felling and other forest law violations. They had to pay a total of 237 thousand Lt in fines.
The amount of illegal forest felling in the country has dropped over the past year due to forest protection officers' active preventative measures. However, these environmental officers are determined to continue strengthening their efforts to curb these illegal activities.
Public Information Division