The Forestry Department is urging sawmill operators to become regularised or run the risk of being prosecuted and fined thousands of dollars for acting outside the law.
Over the past months, the Forestry Department has been robustly and successfully prosecuting individuals who have sought to act is contravention of provisions within the Forest Act of 1996 and the Forest Regulations 2001. The Agency’s most recent prosecution under Section 25 of the Forest Regulations is that of Mr. Verol Danville of a Faith’s Pen address in Moneague, St. Ann who pleaded guilty to driving, transporting or operating in any place, a sawmill of any type or make, without a sawmill licence. He appeared before the Claremont Parish Court on December 1, 2020 and was fined the maximum sum of $50,000 and was also required to obtain a sawmill licence for the calendar year 2020.
Mr. Danville returned to Court on January 12, 2021 where he met an additional requirement of obtaining a sawmill licence for the calendar year 2021. For the duration of the Court proceedings, Mr. Danville’s saw was also seized.
Miss Tanika Stewart, Senior Director of the Forest Enforcement Services Branch at the Forestry Department, said the prosecution resulted from investigations made by a Forest Ranger after a pick-up, operated by Mr. Danville, was seen parked at a gas station in the Moneague area loaded with converted lumber and a power saw.
“The assistance of the Moneague police was sought and the power saw which was found in the back of the vehicle was seized. We were unable to seize the conveyance and the lumber at that time and the vehicle was no longer at the location when we returned the following morning. However, a summons was later served and the case brought before the court,” Miss Stewart said.
Meanwhile, Miss Stewart is encouraging persons who are engaged in sawmilling activities to obtain the required sawmill licence as the Forestry Department remains resolute in its efforts to ensure compliance.
“The fee to apply for the licence is $250 and the cost of the licence is $15,000. The sawmill licence is valid for a Calendar year. The Forestry Department is appealing to all sawmill operators who have yet to obtain their sawmill licence to do so now or risk being prosecuted in Court,” she said.
Section 25 (1) of the Forest Regulations, 2001 which speaks to requirements for a sawmill licence and stipulates that no person shall without a valid licence or permit (a) drive, transport or use in any place, a sawmill of any type or make, (b) being the owner of a sawmill, authorize or instruct any other person to use or operate the saw or (c) trade store or purchase locally produced lumber. For clarity, the legal definition of a sawmill as provided in the Forest Regulations is any power-driven saw operated manually or any pit or whip saw, capable of felling, cross-cutting or pruning trees or timber or converting a tree or timber into sawn wood or board. As such, any person engaged in one or more of the activities outlined in a to c is required to obtain a sawmill licence from the Forestry Department.
Persons wishing to obtain information on the sawmill licensing process may contact the Forestry Department’s Legal and Forest Enforcement Services Division at (876) 618-3205 or visit the Agency’s website, www.forestry.gov.jm to learn more.