In recent months, state leaders have repeatedly demanded to punish the perpetrators guilty of illegal forest logging and “save Ukrainian forests.” In particular, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Hroisman ordered to conduct full inspections of all forestry companies to focus on their compliance with the law. According to EPL, no inspections can correct the situation because the forest management system itself has serious flaws.
For example, now the institutions that authorize forest felling and control the correctness and appropriateness of forest felling by others are not only under control of the State Agency of Forest Resources, but also financially dependent on those whom they inspect and control! For several years they have not got necessary budget funding, and according to the draft law of the State Budget of Ukraine for 2019 adopted in the first reading, they will not have it next year either.
Forest protection stations receive funds from forestry companies for surveying the areas where sanitary logging is planned and “Ukrderzhlisproekt” enterprise gets funding for conducting work in the area of forest inventory and planning, where, in particular, forest felling is assigned. Obviously, in such conditions it is impossible to be completely independent and unbiased.
However, according to the legislation, a part of control functions in the forestry sector (approval of materials of forest inventory and planning, approval of maximum amounts of forest to be cut) belong to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine. The State Environmental Inspectorate is also subordinated to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine.
Therefore, EPL appealed to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with the following proposals:
• To transfer Ukrderzhlisproekt enterprise and 7 state specialized forest protection stations from the subordination to the State Agency of Forest Resources of Ukraine to subordination of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine;
• after the transfer, to ensure full budget funding of Ukrderzhlisproekt enterprise and seven state specialized forest protection stations using the funds allocated to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. In particular, part of forest inventory works may be funded by the budget program 2401270 “Implementation of environmental protection measures”;
• to increase budget funding of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources by the amount necessary for budget funding of Ukrderzhlisproekt enterprise and seven state specialized forest protection stations.
In our opinion, this, on the one hand, will make forest inventory experts and forest pathologists independent of the economic activity of forestry enterprises. On the other hand, it will allow them to have decent working conditions and permanent funding.
As a result, it will reduce the scope of forest cutting of doubtful expediency and significantly improve the conservation of biodiversity in the forestry. This is, of course, under condition that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is really concerned about the situation with preservation of forests in Ukraine.
Petro Testov, EPL analyst
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