By Hana Namrouqa – Jan 19,2016

AMMAN — Authorities dealt with 162 violations recorded on 300 dunums of forest lands across the country over the past three months, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

The registered violations on the forest lands were cultivations, quarries and building and they were removed under a national plan to restore forest lands, said Agriculture Minister Akef Zu’bi.

“A total of 1,982 violations on forest lands have been registered since 2002, when an agriculture law was drafted with penalties on those who allocate, designate, sell or barter forest lands,” Zu’bi told reporters at a press conference to announce outcomes of the national plan.

The minister stressed that the plan is to remove all violations on terrains registered as forest lands, whether covered with forest trees or not, adding that he expects authorities to remove another 500 violations during the next six months.

Forestry lands amount to 1.5 million dunums, of which 250,000 dunums are bare, 400,000 dunums are natural forests, 500,000 dunums are planted forests and 350,000 are nature reserves, according to the ministry’s figures.

The highest number of removed violations on forest lands was in Jerash Governorate, 48km north of the capital, where authorities removed 112 violations on 216 dunums.

Ajloun Governorate, 70km northwest of Amman, followed with 24 violations on 33.4 dunums removed, according to the ministry’s figures.

Zu’bi noted that consecutive governments have not made plans to address the issue of violations on forest lands, and the ministry’s Forestry Department only carried out “conventional protection measures” in the past.

“The plan is being implemented with an unprecedented cooperation from the Interior Ministry, including district governors, the Public Security Department and the Gendarmerie Department. We are happy with its results,” Zu’bi said.
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