Forest Act in place

Navakuru villagers attend a talanoa session by Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu during his tour. Picture LUKE RAWALAI (1)

THOSE burning forests negligently can now be fined a maximum of $10,000 or serve an imprisonment term under the new Fiji Forest Act.

Speaking during a talanoa session with the Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu during his tour of Navakuru Village in Cakaudrove yesterday, Labasa Police Station’s Corporal Waisale Sokoiwasa said people fond of burning forests unnecessarily needed to think twice now.

Cpl Sokoiwasa said police would not hesitate to take perpetrators to task, adding that burning forests was like a mass genocide.

“If you are setting fire to your piece of land, you need to ensure that the fire needs to stay within the boundaries of your land,” he said.

“Once fire gets out of your land boundary, you are bound by the law and can be charged for an offence. “We have been attending to a lot of fire reports recently due to the dry weather conditions and we have charged a few negligent people. “I want to reiterate this point that burning forests is illegal.”

Cpl Sokoiwasa also warned those logging illegally without proper licences.

“We have received reports of illegal operators and we are monitoring them and their sinister operations,” he said.

During yesterday’s talanoa session, villagers had voiced their concerns to Mr Naiqamu regarding an illegal company logging native trees that were being sold in Labasa.

Villager Sakiusa Tadravula told Mr Naiqamu that the perpetrator allegedly worked during the cover of darkness.

Mr Naiqamu has tasked iTaukei Land Trust Board and the ministry’s personnel to look into the concerns and deal with the illegal operator.

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