Taipei-Six people in central Taiwan have been sentenced to a maximum three years and six months in prison for cutting down a protected tree species in the mountains of Taichung, according to a document issued by the city's district court Tuesday.
The men were charged in December 2016 with violating the Forestry Act, after they were accused of felling and processing Taiwan cypress trees in the mountains of the city's Heping District, the court said.
The Taiwan cypress, which typically grows at altitudes of 1300-2800 meters, has considerable economic value as it is known to be strongly aromatic and insect-resistant.
According to the court document, the six people were part of an illegal logging ring that had hired Vietnamese migrant workers to fell the protected Taiwan cypress trees deep in the forest, cut them into blocks and carry them out to the road for transportation down the mountain.
The first such operation was carried out on Dec. 9, 2016, when a total of 2.9876 square meters of cypress timber, worth about NT$2.68 million (US$86,918), was illegally harvested, the court said.
A week later on Dec. 13, a similar attempt was made but police arrested the six Taiwanese who were running the operation, according to the court document.
Police also seized 17 blocks of Taiwan cypress, which weighed 1.47 kilograms and had an estimated market value of NT$1.65 million, the court said.
It said the six men have been sentenced to prison for terms ranging from one year and eight months to three years and six months, and fined NT$18.16 million to NT$32 million.
The case can still be appealed.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel