Today in Kazakhstan, illegal felling of trees faces liability up to criminal liability. If earlier violators could only be charged with a small fine, now the situation has changed radically. Askhat Kainarbekov, chairman of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, spoke about the toughening of responsibility and how the task of planting 2 billion trees in the country will be implemented in accordance with the instruction of the Head of State, Kazinform correspondent reports. From 4 MCI to imprisonment One of the reasons for the frequent illegal felling of trees, the head of the committee calls the low level of responsibility against violators. Now, after the amendments made to the Criminal and Administrative Codes at the initiative of the Ministry of Ecology, there may be serious consequences in case of unauthorized felling of green spaces. “Previously, a fine of 4 MCI (11,668 tenge) was due for damage to a Red Book plant. Now, if someone harms rare trees, they face a fine of up to 500 MCI (1,458,500 tenge), and if destroyed, up to 1,000 MCI (2,917,000 tenge). This became possible after changes were made to the Basic rates for calculating the amount of damage caused by violation of forest legislation,” said Askhat Kainarbekov. In addition, the changes also affected the Code of Administrative Offenses, according to which the maximum penalty for illegal felling of trees on the territory of the state forest fund, with damages up to 100 MCI (291,700 tenge), is 1,000 MCI (2,917,000 tenge). If trees growing in specially protected natural areas are cut down – a fine of up to 500 MCI (1,458,500 tenge) with confiscation of illegal “prey”. “If the damage amounted to more than 100 MCI, then the norms of the Criminal Code are already in force here. The maximum liability in this situation can be up to 45 days of arrest with confiscation of property,” the head of the department emphasized. It is important to say that, despite the fact that illegal felling of trees on the territory of settlements falls within the competence of local executive bodies, the Ministry of Ecology, as a state body that opposes harm to plants in the whole country, initiated the introduction of additions to the Basic rates regarding the toughening of liability for illegal felling, destruction and damage of trees and shrubs growing within the boundaries of cities or towns. What are the conditions for felling trees? According to Askhat Kainarbekov, there are conditions under which tree felling is allowed and even planned. However, a special permit is required to cut down a tree. “Forest owners in each region, they include forest institutions of akimats, national parks, specially protected natural areas, determine the volume of trees to be cut down. These can be dead, weakened and mature stands, or trees after fires. These trees give rise to forest diseases and threaten healthy trees, in this regard, it is important to remove them in a timely manner. In addition, a cluttered forest can cause complications in extinguishing forest fires and spreading it over large areas, preventing the passage of vehicles, which can also interfere with extinguishing forest fires,” said the chairman of the committee. According to him, forest owners submit their data to the regional territorial inspection of forestry and wildlife, which go to the site and double-check the information provided. After that, an ecological expertise takes place, and the committee issues a permit for cutting down these plantations. “There are cases when one volume is determined for felling, but in fact the volume is exceeded. This also applies to illegal logging. Space monitoring helps us to see that the limit has been exceeded. We check monthly with the indicators of the company “Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary”. If we see violations, then we work out with law enforcement agencies, we determine the damage, ”Askhat Kainarbekov said.