Eco-activists from the "Ukrainian Environmental Protection Group" accused the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of destroying healthy forests for the sake of mining, despite the availability of alternative sites.
This negates a program to plant 1 billion trees, which sometimes occurs through the destruction of steppe ecosystems and the planting of dangerous invasive species, according to the community's Facebook page.
"On the one hand, foresters plant invasive steppe species, destroying natural ecosystems, and say that this is necessary to increase the area of forests. On the other hand, the state and local self-government bodies distribute hundreds of hectares of forests for agriculture, subsoil use and construction, destroying a healthy, established forest," ecoactivists wrote.
It is noted that the Ministry of Environment approves the auctioning of plots for mining, taking into account the position of the regional council. The "Forest Strategy" provides that it is possible to transfer forests to other types of land use only if there is no alternative.
Eco-activists emphasized that there is an alternative for common minerals, such as amber or sand. Therefore, officials have every reason not to approve mining in such areas.
However, their analysis of 162 Ministry of Environment findings on such approvals and refusals showed that not a single refusal was granted on the grounds of forest conservation.
They said that in the Zhytomyr region, among the 8 plots of the forest fund that were sold for amber mining, only half were previously disturbed by illegal diggers. There are hundreds of hectares of disturbed forest areas in the region, which is a leader in implementing a large-scale tree-planting program.
"We call on the Ministry of the Environment and regional state administrations to save forests with deeds – not words, by refusing to extract minerals from forests when there is an alternative," said the eco-activists.
Earlier, EcoPolitic wrote, that in Zhytomyr region, the court recognized as illegal the inaction of the state-owned enterprise "Forests of Ukraine" regarding the preservation of the hydrological reserve of local importance "Rechytsia" in Zhytomyr Oblast, where amber was illegally mined.
As EcoPolitic previously reported, on the border of the Rivne Nature Reserve, they planned to start amber extraction in the area of the largest marsh massifs of Ukraine, Syr Pogonya. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources agreed to put the site up for auction, although it had previously agreed to bequeath this territory.