Lebanese Forest Conservation Law

17 11 2007

Law No. 558

 
Forest Conservation

 The Parliament has ratified, and

The President of the Republic signed the following law:

Exclusive Article – The bill introduced as a decree no. 8294, dated 19/4/1996, in connection with Conserved Forests, has been ratified as amended by the Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture, Tourism, Environment, and Municipal and Rural Affairs, and the Parliamentary Committee of Administration and Jurisdiction.

This law shall take effect from the date of publication in the Official Gazette.

 

Baabda, on 24 July 1996

 

Signed: Elias Hraoui

Issued by the President of the Republic

 

 

Signed:  Rafik Hariri

Prime Minister


 

 

Forest Conservation Law

Chapter One

Conserved Forests

Section One

Definitions

 

Article 1 – In this Law, the terms below shall bear the following meanings:

          (a)  Conserved Forest: A forest, or group of forests, of any type;

          (b)  The Ministry:  The Ministry of Agriculture;

          (c)  The Directorate:  The Directorate of Rural Development and Natural Resources, within the Ministry of Agriculture;

          (d)  The Agency:  The Forest Conservation Agency within the Directorate of Rural Development and Natural Resources;

          (e)  Conserved Forest Site:  The final borders, after being specified and detached.

 

Article 2 – The following places shall be considered as Conserved Forests, in addition to national Nature Reserves, and the provisions of this Law shall apply to them:

All forests of cedar, fir, high juniper (juniperus excelsa), evergreen cypress (cupressus sempervirens) and other trees, whether diverse or homogeneous, whether state-owned free from usufructuaries, state-owned with usufrucht to villages, or owned by villages and municipalities.

 

Section Two

Setting up the Forest Conservation Agency – Its Power/Authority


Article 3 – An agency shall be set up at the Ministry of Agriculture, called the Forest Conservation Agency, and it shall be attached to the Directorate of Rural Development and Natural Resources.

 

Article 4 – For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Law, and the Law of Forests issued on 7/1/1949, the Directorate of Rural Development and Natural Resources shall take charge of the following tasks:

          (1)  Administering the Law of Forests and the Forest Conservation Law, and administering the rules and regulations attached to them;

          (2)  Organizing state-owned, common and private forests in order to maintain them, improve their yield and promote continuity;

          (3)  Management of Conserved Forests and Nature Reserves;

          (4)  Reserving, maintaining and taking care of woodland resources, and forestation of waste lands, whether state-owned, common or private, and providing feasible support to carry out this work;

          (5)  Reserving and maintaining soil and water resources in Conserved Forests, in collaboration with relevant ministries and authorities;

          (6)  Organizing the use of state-owned and common woodlands and others, and devising the best ways of maintaining, developing and protecting them;

          (7)  Looking after natural pastureland, organizing its use, and supervising grazing areas of goats and other livestock animals; and

          (8)  Regulating the conditions and seasons of hunting in Conserved Forests.

 

Article 5 – The Forest Conservation Agency consists of five departments including landscape architects, technicians, foresters, officers and forest rangers.

Staffing and power/authority of the Forest Conservation Agency shall be assigned via a decree issued by the Cabinet, and its staff members shall be considered as judicial police assistants when doing their duties.

 

Article 6 – (1)  A section shall be introduced into the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, under the title of “Forest Conservation”.  This section shall contain the following items (2-14-1-23-13):

            Tools and Equipment

            Facilities / Installations

            Machinery

            Training and Conferences

            Technicians’ Wages / Labour

            Allowances for Committees and Contractors.

 

            (2)  All donations and grants made to promote and develop Conserved Forests shall be acknowledged via a resolution passed by the Cabinet.

 

Section Three

Ranking Conserved Forests – Their Handling – Their Management – Prohibitions


Article 7 – As soon as this law is publicized in the Official Gazette, a Provisional Board shall be appointed by a common decree issued by both the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Finance.  This Board shall include employees from both ministries, and shall be responsible for carrying out the demarcation processes of considering and adjusting the borders of all forests of cedar, fir, high juniper, evergreen cypress and other trees in Lebanese territory, and the processes of surveying them and designing their maps in collaboration with the Remote Sensor Centre of the National Council for Scientific Research.  Upon the completion of these processes, the Site of Conserved Forests shall be specified and their final area assigned.  The said Provisional Board shall indicate the titles and usufrucht rights of Conserved Forests, without prejudice to the provisions of the Bill executed as Decree no. 15396 dated 19/2/1964 in connection with appropriating villages and desolate or common lands.  The provisions of the Law of Forests shall only apply where they do not conflict with this Law, and particularly Articles 8, 9, 10, and 41 to 52 of the Law of Forests and the Law of Nature Reserves.  When necessary, this Provisional Board may use the services of architects, surveyors, and representatives of governorates, municipal councils or local mayors.

 

Article 8 – Upon the completion of demarcation processes, finalizing the Site of Conserved Forests, and submitting a final report to that effect by the Board, a summary of the said report shall be publicized in the Official Gazette and in two local newspapers.  Objections and trials shall be considered by the Land Court Judge, and the demarcation processes shall be dealt with in due form, including legal periods of appeal.  All ministries and state departments shall be considered as being notified via the publicizing process, and the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Hydro-Electric Resources, and Ministry of Communications, shall receive additional notifications through administrative channels, and these ministries shall comply with the request of the Ministry of Agriculture to keep all their works at least 500 m outside the borders of the Conserved Forest Site.

 

Article 9 – Upon completion of the demarcation processes under the provisions of this Law, all former usufruchts and rights in these Conserved Forests shall be deemed to have expired, and all rights of use by municipalities and villages, no matter how justified they are.

 

Article 10 – The distribution in kind among villagers of yield from some existing forests or Conserved Forests shall cease, and to that effect, the law issued on 9 November 1951 shall apply in connection with soil conservation, forestation and protection from grazing animals, together with Articles 41 to 52 of the Law of Forests.

After detachment of these Conserved Forests, the Forest Conservation Agency shall lay down a special set of rules that has to be ratified by the Municipal Council or the Common Land Committee, and then submitted to the Minister of Agriculture for approval.

 

Article 11 – Other Nature Reserves which are not mentioned in this Law shall remain in compliance with the provisions of Chapter Four of the Law of Forests until they are declared to be Conserved Forests via a decree issued by the Cabinet upon receipt of an application signed by their owners.  The Forest Conservation Agency may help the owners of these properties to benefit from Articles 41 to 52 of the Law of Forests, and the provisions of the Law issued on 9 November 1951.

 

Article 12 – A Top Honorary Board, headed by the Minister of Agriculture, shall be set up for every Conserved Forest, and it includes representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the National Council for Scientific Research, and from various Municipal Councils, non-governmental organisations, environmental societies and cooperatives in the village, region, constituency or province, and these representatives shall be appointed by the Minister of Agriculture.  The said Board shall take charge of looking after the Conserved Forest, supervising the behaviour of local inhabitants of the constituency toward the Conserved Forest entity and site, coordinating the work of volunteers, and urging people to maintain and develop the Conserved Forest.  If necessary, the Board may obtain help from experts recommended by the National Council for Scientific Research.  Moreover, the Minister of Agriculture may appoint some additional organisations and individuals that he/she thinks fit to join in carrying out the tasks of the Board.

 

Chapter Two

Management of Conserved Forests

 

Article 13 – Every department of the Forest Conservation Agency mentioned in Article 4 of this Law shall manage one or more Nature Reserves, and shall be headed by a Landscape Architect.

 

Article 14 – In all cases, the Forest Conservation departments shall be equipped with workplaces, permanent accommodation centres, watchtowers, communication tools, and quick fire extinguishing equipment.  The Minister of Agriculture shall lay down the rules and specifications of equipment, and the ways of coordinating efforts with governmental directorates in connection with the tasks of the said departments.

 

Article 15 – The departments shall work in collaboration with one another, and with other regional forest centres, to carry out the following tasks:

          (1)  Conducting full surveys of the Conserved Forest Ecosystem, such as trees, plants, soil, climate, birds, water channels, and animal inhabitants and wanderers (wildlife), and contributing to scientific research projects set up within the Conserved Forest Site by the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, the National Council for Scientific Research, and the Municipal Councils.

 

          (2)  Organizing patrol and surveillance missions, deterring trespasses, and restraining violations of this Law in the Conserved Forest Site and its neighbourhood.

 

Chapter Three

Section One

Violations

 

Article 16 – It shall be prohibited to do the following:

          (1)  To enter an acknowledged Conserved Forest Site and engage in any activity, take accommodation, erect tents, swim, bathe or have food meals therein;

          (2)  To bring in or herd any livestock animals within the Conserved Forest Site;

          (3)  To cut down trees, remove grass, collect firewood, extract rock, soil or metals, or to divert running water, or pick flowers and wild fruits within the Conserved Forest Site;

          (4)  To light fires, discharge or dispose of wastes, or distort/damage the landscape within at least 1000 m outside the borders of the Conserved Forest Site;

          (5)  To change the features inside Conserved Forests, which includes bringing in imported species of animals and birds; and

          (6)  To engage in any practice that may distort the Conserved Forest or cause damage to it.

 

Article 17 – Both the Forest Conservation Agency and the Natural Resources Agency shall be required to investigate and restrain transgression of the provisions of this Law, and pursue legal proceedings in connection with the same in appropriate criminal courts, and the employees of both Agencies shall make, sign and submit reports of transgressions to the Public Prosecution Service, and send copies thereof to the Heads of both Agencies.

 

Article 18 – Security Forces shall undertake the protection of all Conserved Forests, and protect employees and contents thereof.

 

Section Two

Penalties

 

Article 19 – Settlements shall not be acceptable for violations mentioned in Article 16 of this Law, whatever the motives or justifications of these offences.

 

Article 20 – A person who violates the provisions of the first paragraph in Article 16 of this Law may be fined between one million and ten million Lebanese pounds and/or imprisoned between one month and six months.

 

Article 21 – A person who violates the provisions of the second paragraph in Article 16 of this Law may be imprisoned between one month and six months and/or fined at least L£ 250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Lebanese Pounds) for every single goat or livestock animal, and the animals shall be seized and sold by the Forest Conservation Agency at the nearest slaughterhouse to the site of the offence.

 

Article 22 – A person who violates the provisions of the third paragraph in Article 16 of this Law may be imprisoned between six months and three years and/or fined L£250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Lebanese Pounds) for every kilogram of material seized.  Should the offence be repeated, the penalty will then be trebled.

 

Article 23 – A person who starts or causes a fire in the forest shall be imprisoned between one year and three years.  If the fire destroys the contents of the Conserved Forest, the offender shall be imprisoned from three years to five years, and shall by no means benefit from remission.  In addition to imprisonment, the offender shall be fined between five million and twenty million Lebanese pounds.

 

Article 24 – A person who removes land surveying marks or damages the boundaries, signs, routes or spaces of a Conserved Forest shall be imprisoned between six months and two years and shall be fined at least two million Lebanese pounds, plus the costs of restitution.

 

Article 25 – A person who extracts sand, soil or rocks from a Conserved Forest or from its Site shall be imprisoned between one year and three years, and shall be fined at least L£250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Lebanese Pounds) for every cubic metre of sand, soil, gravel, rocks or other material extracted.

 

Article 26 – The same penalty imposed on the offender shall be imposed on the inciter, intervener or accomplice.

 

Article 27 – Any judiciary text in conflict with the provisions of this Law shall be nullified.  All Forest Conservation powers and authority mentioned in this Law or in any other law or regulation shall be assigned to the Forest Conservation Agency of the Directorate of Rural Development and Natural Resources, within the Ministry of Agriculture.

 

Article 28 – This Law shall be take effect as from the date of publicizing it in the Official Gazette.

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