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Albania bans cutting trees for 10 years

05 February 2016, 15:29

Tirana - Albania has ordered a 10-year ban on cutting down trees for industrial purposes to avert an "ecological disaster" in the impoverished Balkan country.

A law imposing a 10-year moratorium on issuing forest clearing permits was passed late Thursday by 101 lawmakers in the 140-seat parliament.

The ex-communist country has also vowed to crack down on rampant illegal tree-felling, to blame for 10 times as much as legal deforestation.

"Albania is faced with an ecological disaster and we are obliged to take drastic measures against forest exploitation for industry and export," said Environment Minister Lefter Koka.

Anyone breaking the law could face up to 10 years in jail.

Environmental experts are particularly concerned over deforestation on the banks of rivers because it increases risk of floods throughout the country.

Albania's forests have been halved in the quarter of a century since the collapse of communism: they covered 51 percent of the Balkan country before 1990, compared to 25 percent now.

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