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05/07/2016

FLEG analyzed gaps and inconsistencies in Russian forest legislation

The barriers revealed by FLEG can hinder socio-economic development of the country.

They include barriers to timber production and supplying local communities with firewood and construction materials. A separate analysis was made on the current legal norms regulating logging in protective forests.

Improvement of the legal system on the national level is one of the elements of Indicative Action Plan designed to implement Saint Petersburg Declaration, in which 44 countries of Europe and Northern Asia and other participating countries committed to fight illegal logging. The Action Plan gives special attention to the need to avoid inadequately increasing the cost of “legal” logging.

“An exceedingly rigid and inadequate regulation of forest use, which is not based on real risks, creates barriers for economic development in the forest sector of the country”, says Andrey Zakharenkov, FLEG II expert and one of the authors of the report.

Commercial timber production activities

The analysis revealed about 30 “bottlenecks” in the legislation, which don’t make sense from forestry and environmental points of view, but increase production costs. Most of them – 15 – were found in the sphere of organization and conduction of logging operations. For example, timber producers pointed out vague and conflicting rules in the field of forest management in forest areas, construction of road infrastructure in the forest water conservation zones and spawning areas, designation of the boundaries of logging areas on the field, introduction of changes in the forest logging projects in case of detection of significant inconsistencies between forest management data and the real situation in the forest, etc.

Supply of timber products to local communities

There is a significant gap between how much timber local communities need (even we take into account only firewood for houses with furnace heating) and how much they are allowed to buy. The legal restrictions in this field force locals to harvest wood illegally, and local authorities to turn a blind eye on it.

Another problem is that most people that are entitled to log / buy wood for personal use, can only do this through business because logging usually requires technical skills and safety measures that only professionals can afford. However, the federal legislation doesn’t give business a legal right to supply the locals and local authorities with timber.

“We strongly believe that only legal entities, especially small business, must be the provider of timber to local communities, which requires changing the legislation”, says Andrey Zakharenkov.

Timber harvesting, forest thinning and sanitary measures in protective forests

According to the findings of the FLEG II report, the current practice of forest management does not ensure that protective forests serve their function (to protect valuable water zones and natural sites), and the use of protective forests for timber harvesting purposes is not supported by sufficient methodological and legal basis.

In some cases, the law turns logging in protected forests into a low-profit, inefficient activity, and in others, on the contrary, provokes highly profitable harvesting that threatens the conservation of protective forests.

FLEG recommends resolving these conflicting provisions of the law and developing individual technical regulations for forest management in the protective forests.

http://www.enpi-fleg.org/site/assets/files/2000/report_2016.pdf



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