On October 26, 2016, International charitable organization “Environment-People-Law”, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Lviv Regional State Administration and the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine in Lviv region held a press conference “The truth and lies about forest logging in Ukraine.”
There is no doubt about importance of the topic of the press conference because recently the media are full of materials that discuss the problems of forestry management. The focus of the press-conference is on the following issues: the causes of the poor state of forest industry manifested in the massive illegal logging of wood, reasons of failure of the control system, analysis of the strategies to achieve sustainable forest management in Lviv region.
As stated by the director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Lviv Regional State Administration Ruslan Hrechanyk, the lack of good governance in the field of environmental management and failure to comply with the principles of sustainable development is the main problem of the poor state of the forest industry. According to Mr. Hrechanyk, the first steps that should be done, is to improve legislation that currently allows legally to cut almost any forest, to eliminate corruption risks by implementing effective tools of control and supervision and to provide personal responsibility for the failure to comply with the forest legislation.
Petro Testov, environmental scientist of EPL, urged journalists to be vigilant and not to be mislead by lies and manipulations around the forest theme and avoid providing unconscious support to those who have some interest in this. Much of the information in the media is unprofessional. It seems that some media do someone’s order and want to build the vision that “the state is ineffective owner of the forests” in order to advocate further privatization or redistribution of natural resources through decentralization.
Sofia Shutyak, EPL lawyer, stressed that ineffective control system and lack of supervision in environmental protection contributes to uncontrolled theft of natural resources of Ukraine, including forests. Appointment to senior positions in central authorities of amateurs, people from different areas of expertise, and people for political quota, has led to the fact that as of today the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine does not function. The proposed reorganization of this institute is a change in the facade, not the essence of the institution.
The Head of the State Environmental Inspectorate in Lviv region Mykola Malanych told about the actual situation with unauthorized logging in Lviv region and the practice of inspection of logging. He emphasized that without close cooperation between the SEI, law enforcement agencies and the courts it is not possible to ensure adequate control, which, above all, should be aimed to prevent violations.
Ruslan Hrechanyk stressed that it is possible to achieve a balance between the interests of the economy, local communities and nature conservation through approximation to natural forestry without total forest cutting. It is important to raise the culture of using natural resources and not perceiving forests just like wood. This can be achieved through the development of protected areas in Lviv region, including the creation of the National Nature Park “Boykivshchyna.”
Petro Testov and Sofia Shutyak offered to develop a new strategy “Management of forests of Ukraine” and reorganize state enterprise of forest industry, dividing them into those dealing with forest exploitation and those that care about environmental, protective and recreational forests.
The press-conference was held at financial support of International Renaissance Foundation. International Renaissance Foundation is one of the biggest charitable foundations in Ukraine founded by the investor and philanthropist George Soros. The International Renaissance Foundation’s mission is to foster an open, participatory, pluralist society based on democratic values in Ukraine.
International charitable organization “Environment-People-Law” is a human right organization that since 1994 has been protecting environmental rights and other adjacent rights and performing a wide spectrum of activities in the field of environmental protection.