Two men have been found guilty of breaches of the Forest Act (1996), and Forest Regulations (2001), as the Forestry Department continues to clamp down on illegal activities in forest estates across the island.
Andre Salabi, 31 years old of Town Head District in Westmoreland was found guilty of felling trees and carrying a power saw in a forest reserve and removing forest produce while his accomplice, Alexander Cahoon, 63 years old also of Town Head District has been found guilty of removing forest produce.
The men were fined a cumulative sum of $60,000 when they appeared in the Westmoreland Parish Court in Savanna-La-Mar on October 20, 2020.
Miss Tanika Stewart, Senior Director, of the Forest Enforcement Services Branch at the Forestry Department, said the prosecutions resulted from Forest Rangers acting on information received about illegal logging in a section of the Dolphin Head Forest Reserve. The Agency’s officers with the aid of the Grange Hill Police investigated and apprehended the accused men. This swift action resulted in the successful prosecution of the perpetrators.
“The incident resulted in the seizure of approximately 60 pieces of logs that had been cut in the forest reserve, a tractor, and a power saw. However, the power saw and tractor were returned by the Court to the two men upon the payment of the fines,” Ms. Stewart said.
In the meantime, persons are being reminded that it is illegal to remove timber and forest produce from a forest estate without the proper permits and licences.
Under the Forest Act (1996), persons found in breach could face a maximum fine of $500,000 and / or imprisonment not exceeding two years. Under the Forest Regulations (2001), perpetrators could be fined up to $50,000 or face imprisonment of up to one year.
“We are encouraging everyone to go the legal route by obtaining a permit or licence so we can better manage and conserve our forest resources for the benefit of present and future generations,” Ms. Stewart .
Citizens are also being encouraged to call the Forestry Department at 876-618-3205 to report any illegal activity that may be observed in any forest estate. All information provided will be handled with the strictest of confidence, and persons are not required to provide their names or contact information when making reports.