100 tons of firewood seized
The Directorate General of Agricultural Affairs in Riyadh seized more than 100 tons of firewood and coal on sale in violation of an existing ban.
The seized items were sold at a public auction in Al-Nour District near Exit 18 in the Saudi capital, with the proceeds totaling more than SR200,000 going to government coffers.
The directorate noted that many individuals engage in chopping down trees and selling firewood and coal because of the “substantial amount of money involved.”
Several years ago, the Kingdom banned firewood and coal sales for heating in winter. Violators of the ban sell these items in remote areas where they cannot be easily seen or the sellers apprehended by the authorities.
“Sellers are cautious. They don’t stay beside the pile of firewood or coal. They hide somewhere else. They only approach the customer if they think that they won’t get into trouble,” said a Riyadh resident.
The Ministry of Agriculture and the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation (NCWC) warned violators of stiff penalties if they’re caught.
The warning is part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to rescue and preserve the remaining vegetation in the the country and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
“Much of the firewood and coal sold illegally is from plants and trees in wooded areas in the Kingdom,” another resident of the capital said.
Observers have noted that the Kingdom has a varied plant diversity, encompassing a wide spectrum of habitats ranging from mountains, shallow coat line, rocky deserts and meadows, among others.
Authorities have noted that violators have also resorted to importing the banned items from neighboring countries in the region like Yemen and Sudan.
Various government ministries and bodies are involved in the campaign to prevent selling firewood and coal in the Kingdom. These include the ministries of interior, commerce, municipal and rural Affairs, and the NCWC.