The Department of Forestry has recently had to deal with the illegal removal of ‘timber and non-timber items’ from the forest areas of Abaco, including rocks, according to Forestry Supervisor for Abaco, Terrance Rogers.
Mr. Rogers said that he has recently received calls concerning the removal of thatched palms and rocks from Abaco’s pine forest, and has had occasion to confront persons actively removing items from the forest.
He said he wants the public to be fully aware that “you need a permit and license to carry anything from the forest.”
“Without a permit, a person is not even allowed to carry a chainsaw in certain parts of the forest – protected or conservation areas particularly – or they will face stiff penalties,” he said.
He said persons wishing to extract items from the forest need to make application with the Forestry Department and upon approval, along with the requisite fees, will get a license to carry out their activity.
He said he spoke with two men taking thatch from the forest who said they were unaware of the laws. He added that he doesn’t want to prevent persons from being able to work and make money so they were instructed to make proper application so that they can legally continue.
He said he has received several calls regarding removal of rocks and recently the Police confiscated a truck loaded with rocks from the area of the Mudd shanty town.
Mr. Rogers said there are penalties for removing timber and non-timber items from the forest as well as penalties for littering. Fines can carry a two-year imprisonment or $25,000 fine.
He added that any kind of burning in the forest is illegal without a permit. Even backyard burning is illegal without a permit from the Forestry Department
He encourages anyone seeking to use timber, rock or any other items from Abaco’s forests to come to the Forestry Office which is located at the Government Complex under the Department of Environmental Health.
He added that permits are required whether you are getting a few items or are engaging in a commercial endeavor.