RIYADH: Seven people caught illegally transporting more than 56 cubic meters of local firewood in Riyadh could face fines of up to SR900,000 ($240,000).
The seven were arrested by Special Forces for Environmental Security personnel, and the firewood handed over to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, SFES spokesman Col. Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi said.
Al-Otaibi said that the alleged smugglers will face legal proceedings.
Penalties for illegally transporting local firewood include fines of up to SR16,000 per cubic meter, he added.
Excess logging in the Kingdom has become a serious environmental concern in recent decades, affecting land productivity, adding to soil erosion, and leading to a decline in groundwater reserves.
Authorities warn that it also threatens tourism and social development plans.
Earlier, the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification said in a tweet: “Woodcutting is an uncivilized negative behavior that harms the vegetation of the Kingdom and leads to further deterioration, causing desertification and drought. Therefore, the center is keen to prevent such actions by intensifying the fine for practicing its activities.”
Regulations stipulate that anyone — citizen, resident or company — wishing to engage in commercial firewood activities must obtain a license or permit from the center.
In line with the Green Saudi Initiative, launched in October 2021, the center works to protect and control vegetation sites and rehabilitate degraded areas in the Kingdom, combat logging, supervise and invest in pasture lands, forests and national parks and promote a well developed sustainable environment.
The SFES urged people to report any cases that represent an attack on the environment or wildlife by contacting 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 and 996 in other Saudi regions.