2 November 2005

South Africa: Dept Warns Against the Illegal Cutting of Protected Trees

Government has warned people who continue to cut protected trees without a licence, to stop, or face prosecution.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) issued the warning after the department successfully obtained judgment against two farmers who cleared protected trees without the necessary licenses.

Departmental spokesperson Babs Naidoo said certain trees were protected by law and anyone wishing to cut or utilise these trees, ought to apply for a licence from their local DWAF office.

In terms of the National Forests Act, no person may cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree or possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell or donate any protected tree or any forest product derived from such a tree without a license.

"Since the Department has stepped up enforcing the National Forest Act, various cases have come before the courts.

"The cases in question involve the clearing of Camel thorn trees (Acacia erioloba), to make way for agricultural fields," he said.

These cases started in 2003 and in both instances the farmers were found guilty and fined R10 000 and R5 000, respectively, in September this year.

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