Illegal tree feller caught red-handed in Latvia

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Last week Nature Conservation Agency state environmental inspectors caught a local resident illegally cutting trees in Slītere National Park, according to the agency on April 14.

During inspection of a protected area of the national park, an inspector found that around 20 pines had been cut, of which some had been sawed up and stacked for removal. The inspector then came across a local who was planning on removing the lumber, which he described as clearing out dried up trees. After the inspector told him this was illegal and would require a written explanation, the person ditched the wood and left the scene.

According to the Law on Forests, “In order to commence tree felling in a forest, a confirmation shall be necessary”. In this case the State Forest Service hadn't issued such a document, so the tree cutting was considered arbitrary. The person was also attempting to appropriate state property. The agency has asked the State Police to begin criminal proceedings, which could result in up to three years of imprisonment, forced labor or a fine for illegal tree felling.

“During the crisis the number of such various offenses towards nature will most likely increase, with that the amount of work for inspectors will only increase,” said Nature Conservation Agency Kurzeme Regional Administration Director Dace Samīte.

Last year there were a total of 1,265 inspections in national parks, reserves and protected areas, 92 administrative measures proposed and 99 persons were held accountable for environmental violations. In several instances the case was handed over to the police or State Forest Service.

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