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The forestry sector needs reforming: results of the FSC Ukraine roundtable

Forest law experts, representatives of organizations and key players in the forest sector, at the invitation of the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), discussed the issues of illegal logging, the circulation of illegal timber and law enforcement in Ukraine. Conclusion – the lack of systemic reforms in the forestry sector leads to the aggravation of problems in forestry.

Kyiv – On July 15, 2021, FSC Ukraine held the second round table of the Forest Dialogues series.

The event is dedicated to the issue of legal regulation of illegal logging, the circulation of illegally harvested timber and low law enforcement. The lack of a unified definition and different content in the concept of “illegal logging” causes different interpretations, differences in the statistics of departments, deterioration of the image of the country’s forestry sector, growing distrust in society, and the like. Legislative gaps in regulating the circulation of forest products create conditions for the functioning of the shadow timber turnover. The revealed violations of the legislation on the prohibition of sanitary felling during the “season of silence” are evidence of the low level of law enforcement in the forest industry. These and other issues became the subject of discussion at the second Forest Dialogue.

The round table was attended by:

Chairman of the State Agency for Forest Resources of Ukraine Yuriy Bolokhovets, Assistant to the Chairman of the Subcommittee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Environmental Policy and Environmental Management Yulia Ovchinnikova Natalya Bogdan, Head of the Department of State Environmental Supervision (Control) of Forests and Flora of the State Environmental Inspection of Ukraine Yuriy Katsagorov, State Expert of the Office of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Innesa Medvedenko, project manager of the German-Ukrainian agro-political dialogue Volker Sasse, head of the department of NUBiP of Ukraine Andriy Belous, Member of the Board of the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers Oksana Donskaya and others.

“Ensuring a multilateral, balanced and constructive dialogue will help to find common ground in solving acute problems of forestry, the manifestation of which is, in particular, low law enforcement. I hope that the joint developments will be useful for those responsible for political decisions. In particular, today in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine a draft law is being considered, which, although not completely, but largely corresponds to the request to address the issues of threats, opportunities and potential of reforestation and restoration of natural ecosystems in the context of land reform, which were considered at the first “Forest Dialogue” “,Pavel Kravets, Director of FSC Ukraine, opened the discussion.

Oleg Storchows, lawyer, a specialist in forestry outlined the problem of legal regulation of issues related to illegal logging and illegal timber trafficking, noting the growing urgency of the issue: “The degree of assessment of illegal logging is absolutely subjective due to the lack of clear definitions. So, according to official data, the volume of illegal logging in previous years was 0.1-0.8% of the volume of logging (that is, from 24 to 118 thousand cubic meters), and according to unofficial data, from 2 to 20% (that is, from 400 thousand in 3 million cubic meters) “. The speaker outlined the urgent need for both the development of a bill on the circulation of forest products and the application of the principles of legality and justice when introducing legal liability for forest violations.

“The results of an anonymous survey of employees of forestry enterprises and institutions of the nature reserve fund demonstrated a massive violation of the legislation governing sanitary forest felling. Suspension of work for 2.5 months creates a critical situation for many enterprises, primarily due to the spread of pests and diseases, as well as a lack of income (commercialization of these felling),” – said Roman Volosyanchuk, an expert of the NGO “Ecosphere”.“Surprisingly, none of the surveyed forest users pointed out flaws in the enterprise management system among the reasons for low enforcement.”

The participants of the round table came to the conclusion that the problematic issues raised to indicate the inefficiency of the model of the forest industry. Therefore, comprehensive reform is necessary, namely, a change in the legislative, institutional and economic foundations of its functioning. Suggestions were made for priority actions, in particular, the formation of a code of conduct and ethical standards for the forester, a change in the management system with the introduction of risk assessment and the improvement of control systems, in particular, public. It is also necessary to simplify legislative norms, which should be aimed at achieving the desired result, but not at prohibitions and restrictions. Other components of the forestry sector’s activities also require improvement, namely: changing approaches to financing forestry activities, increasing the transparency and openness of enterprises, streamlining the timber market and logging services.

The Forest Dialogues are designed to provide a multi-stakeholder dialogue between all stakeholders on responsible and sustainable forest management and forest conservation. Representatives of public authorities, scientists and leading experts on forestry issues, non-governmental environmental organizations, as well as other key players in the forest sector are invited to participate in the round tables.

The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to supporting environmentally and socially responsible forest management and sustainable use of forest resources. That is, the FSC mark on wood or on a product made from it is an indicator that products are made from wood from those forests that conduct responsible forestry. Today FSC is represented in 82 countries. The total area of ​​FSC certified forests is 225.2 million hectares. The development of FSC certification in Ukraine has been going on for over 20 years. As of May 2021, 4.4 million hectares of forests were certified in Ukraine and 129 certificates of the forestry system were issued. The timber business is covered by 404 supply chain certificates.

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