Judicial interpretation targets people who damage forest resources
China's top court issued a judicial interpretation on handling criminal cases involving forest resources on Monday, in a bid to further promote environmental conservation.
The 20-article interpretation of the Criminal Law unveiled by the Supreme People's Court will take effect on Tuesday, the country's first National Ecology Day.
"The new legal document is meant to strongly fight against crimes involving the damaging of forest resources and meet new demands in forest protection efforts," Zhou Jiahai, deputy head of the top court's research office, told a news conference.
The interpretation states that those who illegally cut down trees in national parks and national natural reserves should receive heavier punishment than people who do the same activities in other areas.
It also requires courts nationwide to strengthen the protection of trees that are more than 100 years old, "as we've frequently seen cases in which people have cut down, destroyed or even poisoned such trees in recent years," said Yu Haisong, another official who specializes in research on criminal cases from the office.
"Ancient trees have special historical, cultural, scientific and ecological value. Therefore, it's essential and urgent to increase efforts to protect them and prevent behaviors that harm tree resources," he said.
"Judges should protect old trees in line with those on the country's list of key protected wild plants. For those that aren't listed, the interpretation allows judges to punish criminals in accordance with their research of the species, ages, and the historical and cultural value of the damaged trees."
In addition, the interpretation also specifies that people who are found guilty of illegally occupying or destroying more than three-tenths of a hectare of public forest land or more than six-tenths hectare of commercial forest land could face punishments ranging from a fine to up to five years in prison under the Criminal Law.
At the end of June, China's top legislature designated Aug 15 as National Ecology Day, as the country strives to enhance environmental conservation for the construction of an ecological civilization.