Father and son ordered to replant trees cut on privately owned forests

A father and son were sentenced to replant and maintain just over 900 trees after both men were caught cutting and attempting to remove the young plants from privately owned lands that have been declared as a forest management area. They are the first offenders to be prosecuted under the Forest Act for offences committed on a privately owned holding.

Henry and Norman Taylor were fined $10,000 when the matter was heard in the Linstead Resident Magistrates Court in St. Catherine on November 19, 2014. This amount represents the economic value of the 911 trees that were cut. Resident Magistrate Natalie Brooks also ordered
the men to serve 100 hours doing community service by replanting 911 seedlings and maintaining them until the expiration of the community service hours. The sentence was handed down by the RM following the presentation of the Social Enquiry Report for both men. RM Brooks also instructed the Probation Office to supervise the completion of the communityservice while the Forestry Department provides advice.

“This is a victory for the Forestry Department as this is an additional incentive that is available for individuals who declare their land under the Forest Act. Though the pecuniary nature of the circumstance of the perpetrators resulted in a relatively low fine being applied, the recognition of
the importance of replacing the trees that were cut goes a long way in protecting the environment in the future. It is anticipated that the information on the penalty imposed by the Court will filter down into the community and will result in less pilferage from the forest management area,” said Miss Rainee Oliphant, Senior Legal Officer at the Forestry Department.

The facts are that on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 Mr. Roger Turner, the Managing Director of Tulloch Estates in Bog Walk, St. Catherine, was on a section of the estate that had been declared known as the Hampton Forest Management Area when he saw two men cutting young trees with cutlasses. He advised them that they were trespassing and illegally cutting down trees in a Forest Management Area. They were apprehended and handed over to the police and following investigations by the Bog Walk Police both men were charged.

Under the Forest Act, Section 31(1) “Any person who, in any forest reserve, protected area or forest management area fells any tree shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand
dollars ($200,000.00) and in default of payment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.”

Tulloch Estate is among a number of privately owned forests that have been declared a Forest Management Area under the Forestry Department’s Land Declaration Programme. The Forest Act of 1996 allows private landowners to apply for their forested lands to be declared as either a forest reserve or a forest management area. Under the programme, landowners can receive benefits such as remission of their property taxes and the prosecution of offenders under the Forest Act. Persons who are prosecuted under the Forest Act face substantially larger fines than under the Praedial Larceny Act for various forest related offences such as stealing lumber.