Krasnodar, 12 October – Yug Times. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) experts have found out that 45 particularly protected forest areas may soon be disforested.
National economy needs timber - so, it’s no wonder that afforested land plots are being put up for auctions. The bad thing is that some of the plots sold within the period from the end of 2016 until the end of 2017 had been legally determined as forbidden for felling. In the Krasnodar region, it’s the regional Ministry for Natural Resources that organises wood selling auctions.
Yelena Cherkasova, Forest Projects Coordinator of the WWF’s Russian Caucasus branch, told us that in April they received an official confirmation of the results of the pilot analysis of one auction. The confirmation issued by the federal Ministry of Nature stated that 6 particularly protected land plots had been sold over the said period of time. “It gave us reasons to guess that other auctions may have also committed such violations, so we decided to analyse the other lots.” Now the Afipsky, Abinsk, Apsheronsk, Labinsk, Mostovskoi, Tuapse and Gelendzhik forest districts may lose their legally protected forests.
“These plots, among other woodlands, were included into the list of more than 1,000 lots sold in 20162017,” Ms. Cherkasova said. “According to Article 75 of the Russian Forest Code, the term of validity of any forest plantation sale contracts may not exceed one year, which means that part of these plots must have already been disforested.”
Nonetheless, on July 2 a group of wildlife protection activists appealed to the regional Ministry for Natural Resources and the Forestry Department of the Southern Federal District with a request to check these facts and dissolve the forest plantation sale contracts relating to particularly protected forest areas. They also called upon to take measures not to allow such cases in future, because the losses from such disafforestation may reach 136 million roubles.
“We know that the regional Prosecutor’s Office has become interested in this issue,” Cherkasova says. “Besides, on August 28 we sent a letter to Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika asking him to take measures to dissolve the forest plantation sale contracts relating to particularly protected forest areas. Currently we are looking forward to his response.”
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