Hundreds of hundred-year-old pine trees were illegally cut down in the Chernobyl NPP exclusion zone for UAH 120 million shutterstock

Hundreds of hundred-year-old pine trees were illegally cut down in the Chernobyl NPP exclusion zone for UAH 120 million

Anna Velyka

The total amount of damage identified by auditors in the Northern Pushcha State Enterprise reached a terrifying figure of UAH 264 million

State auditors have checked the activities of the State Specialized Enterprise "Severnaya Pushcha", which is under the management of the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management (SAZM) and exposed a number of serious violations, among them the illegal demolition of hundred-year-old trees for 120 million UAH under the guise of "sanitary felling".

This was reported by the press service of the Northern office of the State Audit Service.

The inspectors found that on the area of 29.4 hectares of the State Enterprise "Severnaya Pushcha" were carried out clear-cut sanitary cuttings without applying the procedure of environmental impact assessment (EIA), which is a violation of the law. Such an expert examination of possible consequences for the ecosystem should have been conducted before the start of work on a mandatory basis. The damage from illegal tree felling amounted to UAH 4.7 mln.

Later, on the territory of one of the forest districts that are part of the Severnaya Pushcha State Enterprise, auditors discovered many times more illegal deforestation. They recorded hundreds of cut centuries-old pine trees. According to preliminary estimates, offenders in this forestry caused damage to the state in the amount of UAH 114 million.

Specialists of the State Audit Service also found out that due to ineffective management, the enterprise suffers from chronic underfunding, most of the assets of Severnaya Pushcha have been written off or lost, and the conclusion of unprofitable contracts has led to multimillion-dollar losses. The company has a large salary arrears for its employees, but this has not stopped the SHG from increasing expenses on excessive allowances to management.

The auditors promised to transfer materials based on the results of the audit to law enforcement agencies for subsequent compensation for the damage caused and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

In February, EcoPolitic reported that the ecoprosecutor's office is investigating the cutting down of 200 century-old oak trees in the Chernobyl Nature Reserve, in which officials from the state enterprise "Northern Pushcha" may be involved.

In March, we reported that a raid group during the first unscheduled inspection of the Chernobyl zone discovered more than 500 stumps of cut trees and plowing of land for agricultural work in the radiation-ecological biosphere reserve.

In April, EcoPolitic reported on the detection of 12 illegal logging in the Chernobyl zone.

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