A suspect has been charged under the Forest Act of Manitoba for illegally harvesting Christmas trees north of Marchand and selling them at a business in Steinbach.
Earlier this month, Manitoba conservation officers began an investigation into illegal tree harvesting on a Crown land plantation.
The investigation began following a tip from the public and on December 13th. Conservation officers observed a suspect bringing trees out of the plantation, which is a valuable test area that grows high-quality trees for planting in forestry renewal projects across southern Manitoba.
Officers seized 30 black spruce trees and a chainsaw. Another 18 trees that had been cut but not yet removed were also seized from the plantation. In all, a total of 167 trees had been cut and the majority of these trees were between 20 and 30 feet tall, with only the tops removed.
The suspect indicated that he was selling the trees at his business in Steinbach.
He has been charged under the Forest Act of Manitoba. If convicted, an individual faces a fine of up to $50,000 or up to six months in jail or both. A corporation face fines of up to $250,000 for a first offence. In addition, there will be a requirement to pay provincial forestry dues.
The trees were donated to a Ukrainian church in Winnipeg to help newcomers enjoy their first holiday season in Canada.
The plantation’s missing and damaged trees are a significant loss that negatively impacts long-term sustainable forest management projects in southern Manitoba.
Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development reminds Manitobans to purchase a tree permit to cut trees on Crown land, in designated areas. After purchasing a permit for $9.75 plus taxes, Manitobans can cut a coniferous tree up to three metres high, with a limit of one tree per household. More information is available here: https://gov.mb.ca/nrnd/forest/forestry/crown_timber/index.html.