By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The number of illegal logging cases dropped in January, despite the fact that more trees are usually cut down in winter, according to the Ministry of Environment.

“We only registered two cases of illegal logging last month, because authorities stepped up monitoring of forest areas,” environment ministry spokesperson Isa Shboul told The Jordan Times.

Ministry figures indicate that at least four cases of illegal logging are usually registered every month in the northern governorates, where pine and oak forests cover the majority of the terrain.

Under environmental regulations, those who cut down forest trees without a licence face a three-month prison term, and a JD100 fine for each tree chopped down from state-owned land and JD50 for one from private land. In addition, their equipment is confiscated.

Also in January, the ministry closed down or issued warnings to over 3,000 factories, farms and quarries for failing to adhere to health and environment regulations.

A total of 2,158 industries, workshops and poultry and cattle farms received warnings last month for disposing wastewater in nearby wadis, slaughtering cows on farms, operating without a licence and dumping waste in undesignated areas, Shboul said.

“The ministry and the Rangers also closed down 13 industries, workshops and farms in different governorates after warning them several times to rectify their infringements,” he added.

Environment inspectors also issued 15 final warnings to plants, quarries, brick factories and poultry and cattle farms.

Under environmental regulations, violators are either referred to court or issued warnings and given a chance to rectify the situation, after which they are closed down if they fail to comply.

“The ministry and the rangers also issued tickets to 909 vehicles for emitting excessive amounts of exhaust fumes that cause air pollution,” Shboul said.

Ministry regulations stipulate that motorists driving vehicles with excessive emissions will have their drivers licences revoked. Authorities are also obliged to seize the vehicle and fine the motorist JD30-JD60.