New bill will allow deforestation with 2400% profitability – investigation shutterstock

New bill will allow deforestation with 2400% profitability – investigation

Anna the Great

They are trying to destroy the only existing system of control over sanitary felling of the forest

The relevant committee of the Verkhovna Rada has approved a draft law that abolishes environmental impact assessments for sanitary felling. Experts involved in this industry warn that it contains a corruption mechanism that will allow unscrupulous foresters to put a 2400% margin on the wood they receive into their own pockets.

This was reported by Heorhiy Mohylnyi, an analyst at the Golka civil initiative, in his article for the Glavkom publication.

This refers to the draft law No. 9516 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Effective Forest Management Based on Forestry on the Principles of Close-to-Nature Forestry Adapted to Climate Change and Conservation of Biodiversity in Forests." This document proposes to lift the current 1-hectare logging area limit.

The author of the bill is Oleksandr Matusevych, a member of the Servant of the People party. He justifies the need to cancel the environmental impact assessment of logging by saying that while environmentalists are preparing their conclusion, "wood that can be used is disappearing."

"In six months it will be firewood. Local budgets may lack money. Business wood is 25 times more expensive than firewood. The losses are obvious," the "servant of the people" explains.

This is a 25-fold difference in price between quality wood and firewood and creates crazy corruption risks.

"The absence of an environmental impact assessment will allow on paper to turn a healthy forest into a diseased one, and therefore, the state will receive money as for firewood, and someone will sell the wood 25 times more expensive. The corruption scheme, for which the "Matusevich bill" will open, if the Rada votes for it, gives an instant profitability of 2,400%", – says Georgy Mohylnyi.

The "Ecology-Law-Human" organization also opposes "Matusevich's project". Geobotanist-forest scientist Serhiy Panchenko notes that conservationists have repeatedly recorded how valuable forests are destroyed during continuous sanitary felling.

Currently, the law "On environmental impact assessment" is in effect in Ukraine, which provides for such an assessment to be carried out in the case of continuous sanitary felling on an area of ​​more than 1 ha. In most European countries, such assessment is not provided for sanitary felling at all, or only for works on much larger areas – more than 5 or 10 hectares.

Experts admit that assessing the impact on the environment is a rather complex procedure, and state that in most cases its implementation looks like hammering nails under a microscope.

"In the West, there is an effective system of control that has been developed for decades, thanks to which serious research is needed only in isolated cases. In Ukraine, there is no control system other than environmental impact assessment. And now they are trying to destroy this single mechanism," says Georgy Mohylnyi.

In January 2023, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved amendments to the draft law on environmental impact assessment, and later the Verkhovna Rada approved it. It reduces the timeframe for environmental assessment from 216 to 67 days.

"This actually triples the possible negative consequences from the deterioration of the forest before the start of felling, which lobbyists use to justify the need for the adoption of the "Matusevich bill", – states Georgy Mohylnyi.

Therefore, the Ministry of Environment should continue to work on improving the procedure for assessing the impact on the environment during sanitary felling, so that it is not necessary to "drive nails with a microscope." Or to propose a new, more effective mechanism so that the state does not lose its forest fund.

Earlier, EcoPolitic reported that forestry in Zaporizhzhia will have to pay UAH 1.6 million for illegal cutting of forest.