The unpredictable nature of such crimes makes it a challenge to detect
Resources: Despite frequent patrolling and active vigil, crimes related to forest have been on the rise.
In 2012, it recorded 444 offences and the department’s target in the 11th Plan is to bring it down to less than 250 a year.
However, that remains a challenge for the department and the foresters as the latest figure for the first two years of the 11th Plan show 442 cases related to illegal timber harvest and trade, while wildlife crimes has fallen to 159 cases.
The number of offences has increased by about 4.5 percent from 893 in 2012-13 to 935 in the fiscal year 2013-14 according to RNR Statistics 2015.
Smuggling of animal products rose from six cases to 19, poaching offences from 13 to 35, collection of sand and stones increased to 138 from 119 cases, illegal fishing from 123 to 138, and a slight increase in illegal felling of trees from 228 to 232 incidents.
Agriculture ministry officials said the rise in crimes is mainly in offences that involve transport of forestry produce such as sandalwood.
“As our country is used as a transit route, most crimes do not occur in our forests but those caught are mainly in transit,” the official said.
He said the increase in crimes could also be a result of strict vigil. “There is now a separate unit keeping vigilance on wildlife crimes,” the official said.
However, timber transaction has reduced within the two years, a drop by 34.2 percent, while collection of firewood remained the same with 32 cases reported each year.
In the two years up to June last year, Paro recorded the highest number of forest related crimes but recorded a decrease in the overall number of crimes.
Foresters in the district caught more offences in illegal fishing, poaching, and felling of trees than the previous year.
Twelve districts have reported more than 40 offences in the two years. Trongsa, Pemagatshel and Lhuentse showed drop in crimes.
The crimes included extraction, transportation, trade and disposal of forest resources without legal sanctions, non-compliance to legal norms, and assault on forestry personnel, among others. Forest offences depended on the type of forest resources involved and nature of the offences.
Forest officials said given the unpredictable nature of such crimes, only efficient patrolling and strong community based informers lead to high detection.