(MENAFN - Arab News) The Ministry of Agriculture is studying ways to defame local log merchants who sell wood in violation of the law.
Jabir Al-Shahri, official spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry will apply the defamation resolution, following in the footsteps of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to defame individuals who violate regulations.
"The Ministry of Agriculture will publicly defame violators of the anti-logging law.
Wood is a natural resource which should be available to all and the state is going to deal seriously with violators especially since it has lifted customs duty off imported coal and logs," he said.
"I call on all citizens in villages and cities to realize the importance of maintaining the environment. Some people only think about their personal interests, but we need everyone to cooperate in safeqguarding the environment," said Al-Shahri.
The ministry's spokesman said resident expatriates are involved in the illegal sale of logs and are ruining the environment. "We need to raise the community's awareness about environmental issues," he said.
Al-Shahri said that the ministry was working with other parties to maintain the country's vegetation and had begun to save the local forests by importing logs.
However, the community is not used to the imported logs and will need time to be convinced about the advantages of using it.
Loggers have resorted to social media websites to sell their goods fearing the heavy penalties imposed by the ministry. This winter, prices of locally produced wood reached record levels for two reasons: the ban on the sale of logs and the severe weather which has hit several parts of the Kingdom.
Loggers communicated through WhatsApp to send pictures of the available stocks. Al-Shahri said the ministry will monitor the local loggers on electronic and social media websites in cooperation with security authorities.
"Those who sell local logs through electronic websites will be pursued in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and if caught, will face punishment," he added.
Local log merchants were unrepentant. "Communicating with customers through WhatsApp is very convenient because of the wide user base. I advertised my goods, especially Samar firewood on the app, which enabled customers to communicate with me about the time and place of delivery," said a log merchant.