By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – With the onset of winter, authorities are intensifying monitoring of the country’s limited forests to prevent illegal logging, a practice that increases during the cold season, according to officials.

The number of patrols from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rangers will be doubled during winter to prevent loggers from cutting down forest trees, Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Isa Shboul said on Wednesday.

“The number of illegal logging violations increases during winter. Some people cut down the trees for heating purposes, others for trade,” Shboul told The Jordan Times yesterday, calling on the public to cooperate and report violators to authorities.

Under environmental regulations, individuals who cut down forest trees without a licence face a three-month prison term, and fines of JD100 for each tree cut from state-owned land and JD50 for each tree cut from private land. In addition, violators’ logging equipment is confiscated.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment and the Rangers closed down two industries and a landfill in Irbid in October for breaching health and environmental regulations, the ministry spokesperson said.

“Authorities last month issued 2,089 tickets to industries and poultry and cattle farms for improper disposal of industrial wastewater and slaughter of cattle without abiding by health regulations,” Shboul noted.

Eight institutions, including farms, quarries and industries, also received final warnings after failing to rectify prior health and environmental violations, according to the official.

The Rangers and the ministry also ticketed 400 motorists for driving vehicles producing excessive fumes.

Ministry regulations stipulate that motorists found driving vehicles emitting excessive amounts of exhaust fumes will have their drivers’ licences revoked. Authorities are also required to seize the vehicle and fine the motorist JD30-60, according to the ministry.

During the month of October, authorities also seized 50 vehicles loaded with tonnes of untreated fertiliser in the Jordan Valley as part of an ongoing crackdown on the use of the substance, which attracts domestic flies due to its high percentage of humidity. The fertiliser was confiscated and sent to an organic fertiliser plant in Deir Alla for treatment.