Riyadh skyline, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s environment police said they had caught 39 violators of the country’s environment law by setting off bonfires at a provincial park.

The offenders were 37 Saudis and two expatriates – a Pakistani and a Yemeni, the Special Forces for Environmental Security (SFES) added.

Their violations were detected at a vegetation cover area in the mountainous Soudah park in the Asir region in south-western Saudi Arabia.

SFES said that igniting bonfires in protected areas is an offence punishable by a maximum fine of SR20,000 and in vegetation cover lands by fines of up to SR3,000.

Illegal burning of a tree in Saudi Arabia is, meanwhile, punishable by fines of up to SR40,000.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has ramped up a crackdown on ecological violations amid environment preservation efforts in the country.

In 2019, Saudi authorities announced a ban on bonfires in gardens and other public places for safety reasons and vowed to fine offenders.

The practice of setting off fires for cooking in public areas is not uncommon during outings in Saudi Arabia.

The fines against the act in non-designated public sites are part of regulations for public conduct that went into effect in the kingdom in September 2019.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a series of pro-environment measures aimed to address climate change.

In 2021, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Saudi Green Initiative, an effort aimed at planting 10 million trees across the kingdom, increasing the protected zones to 30 per cent of the country’s overall area and reducing carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by the year 2030.

Saudi Arabia is due to host a major climate event next October. The MENA Climate Week will be held in the capital Riyadh on October 8-12 in coordination with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The event will be held ahead of the UN climate change conference, COP28, due to begin in the UAE on November 30.