TIRANA, October 28
Illegal logging remains a widespread problem although a ten-year tree cutting ban has been into effect since 2016. Hence, a new bill ‘On Forestry’ aims to put more stringent measures in place to control illegal forest activities.
People found to have illegally logged or damaged forests as well as forest officers and employees that fail to fulfill their responsibility in forest management and protection would face severe penalties. The bill ranks several administrative offenses and penalties up to Lek 10,000 for illegal extraction and harvesting of timber and non-timber forest products.
Further on, fines between Lek 5,000 and Lek 10,000 will be applied to cattle and livestock grazing in protected areas, restored forests, young forests, nurseries, experimental forest plots, and an area where remediation works are carried out.
Moreover, higher penalties and fines between Lek 20,000 and Lek 40,000 will be issued to those found to have intervened on afforestation and improvement of vegetation of forest lands without appropriate permits and in violation of the rules on afforestation. This includes seed cultivation on bare ground and the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides without appropriate permits and against the regulation.
The draft law provides for a fine of Lek 300,000 to Lek 500,000 for violations such as timber and non-timber products transporting from the forest or storage sites to processing and sales centers without the documentation proving its origin.
Meanwhile, cases of industrial wastewater or chemical discharge will be subject to fines of Lek 500,000 to Lek 1 million.
On the other hand, officers, employees or structures responsible for forest management and protection will be subject to fines of Lek 100,000 to 500,000 if by their actions or inactions they fail to comply with their legal responsibilities.