Cairo: Saudi authorities have blamed a company for illegally removing a rare tree in the south-western region of Jizan and vowed legal action against the violators.
A video went viral online showing a bulldozer cutting the tree.
A spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of the Environment, Water and Agriculture said that the company involved had removed the tree without consulting the ministry concerned.
According to a new environment system in Saudi Arabia, unlawful tree cutting is an offence punishable by hefty fines, arrest and jailing, the official said.
“This act is unacceptable. Work is under way to rehabilitate this long-lived tree,” he added without giving details or specifying the age of the tree.
The Ministry of the Environment has recently intensified efforts across Saudi Arabia to combat the tree-cutting and logging in cooperation with security agencies such as the Saudi Special Forces for Environmental Security.
Many offenders and large quantities of firewood have recently been seized, the official said. He urged the public to help end the tree-cutting practice to protect vegetation, stop using firewood and turn to alternatives.
Earlier this month, Saudi prosecutors warned against harming vegetation and unlawful tree cutting, pointing out that related violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of SR30 million.