Cypriots Turn To Illicit Firewood

NICOSIA – A Cyprus Forestry Department official says illegal logging in the bailed-out island nation has picked up sharply as people turn to firewood to save on heating bills.

Antonis Horattas says reported cases of illegal logging tripled last year as compared to 2011, while demand for heating oil has dropped by almost a third.

Horattas said that slow-burning olive, carob and lemon trees are the firewood preferred over pine and authorities were stepping up inspections and road checks to thwart the practice. Offenders face a maximum two-year jail term, a 40,000 euro ($54,600) fine, or both.

Cyprus’ economy shrunk steeply and joblessness shot up to record levels after the country agreed upon a painful financial rescue deal with international creditors last year that crushed its troubled banking sector.