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|Tuesday, July 31, 2001, updated at 09:12(GMT+8)|
Two Sentenced, 69 Arrested for Damaging ForestsTwo Chinese were sentenced to imprisonment and 69 suspects were arrested for illegal logging or misconduct in forestry management, China's forestry authority announced on July 30.
The imprisonment and arrests were the result of State Forestry Administration (SFA) campaigns launched last year to prevent forests from being felling for cultivation and other purposes, and to ban unauthorized or out-of-quota logging, said Lei Jiafu, the SFA's deputy director.
China, with only 16.5 percent of its land covered by forest, exercises a forest harvest quota system according to its forestry law, which requires strict permits for forest logging, timber transportation and marketing.
However, abuse of laws by some local officials and workers at forest farms has incurred serious cases in which forests were destroyed, or logging permits were issued irrationally, Lei said.
"Illegal practices by some governmental workers and enterprises have become an important factor of the forest damages," he said.
Two officials in northwest China's Shaanxi Province were found guilty by a local court for approving out-of-quota logging. They were respectively sentenced to three years' in jail and fined 100, 000 yuan (about 12,000 US dollars).
An additional 69 suspects were arrested, one is being pursued, and some relevant officials were disciplined in seven serious cases handled recently, in which about 36,000 cubic meters of trees were illegally felled, according to the SFA.
The administration has launched several protection campaigns targeting natural forests and wildlife resources since last year, sending 14 working groups nationwide to supervise the handling of key cases.
Lei Jiafu said the responsibility of officials in charge should be emphasized, and those who neglect their duties in forestry protection should be investigated and held responsible.
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