Cabinet sabotages implementation of law on protection of primary forests in Carpathians - MP Ihor Lutsenko
Ukrainian MP Ihor Lutsenko (Batkivschyna faction) and a number of leaders of environmental public organizations declare the ongoing cutting down of primary forests in the Ukrainian Carpathians and sabotaging the implementation of the law on protection of primary forests passed in 2017.
"The situation is quite complicated. There is sabotage of the legislation that exists. Questions arise, first of all, to the Cabinet of Ministers ... The process of destruction of the Ukrainian forests, including primary forests, continues, despite the fact that there is a law," he said at a press conference at the Interfax-Ukraine agency in Kyiv on Monday.
In turn, Project Manager at the project for saving the Carpathian primeval forests of the Ukrainian Bird Protection Society Olha Yaremchenko explained: "Primary forests are unique remnants of natural indigenous forests that have not been cut down yet. Ukraine is one of the few countries where primary forests remain, and they are located in the Carpathians ... Being resistant to diseases, they formed an environmental safety framework in the Carpathians. They are more resistant to windfalls, more effectively restrain water, soil, and prevent mudslides."
According to her, trees of large age categories have been preserved in such forests, and because of the imperfection of the national legislation, they fall under the category to be harvested.
"Primary forests are hewed down quite actively. There are up to 80,000 hectares of those areas that have been identified in the Carpathians, as our studies showed in 2014. Then, the third part of 17,000 hectares from the area that we identified, turned out to be cut down during three years ... There are certain legal conditions that ripe and perennial forests must be removed. And primary forests fall under such a category," she noted.
In turn, Director of Kyiv Ecoethics Center Volodymyr Boreiko recalled that in the summer of 2017, the president adopted and signed the law "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on the Protection of Primary Forests" in accordance with the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, where cutting down of primary forests in various reserves are regulated.
"On the last day of November 2017, the relevant amendments to the bylaws were to be developed. There are two main bylaws - Sanitary regulations in the forests of Ukraine and the Rules for improving the qualitative composition of forests," Boreiko explained.
However, according to him, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is delaying the implementation of the norms of the law.
"Ihor Lutsenko and the Kyiv Ecological and Cultural Center filed a lawsuit with the District Administrative Court of Kyiv. There will be the first meeting on October 29 where we will confront the Cabinet," the activist informed.
As reported, in 2017, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the law "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on the Protection of Primary Forests, in accordance with the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians."
The document defines the concepts of "natural forests," "primary forests," "quasi-primary forests" and establishes a special legal regime for their conservation and protection. The law, in particular, prohibits all types of clearance, construction of buildings, laying of tracks, cattle grazing, and passage of vehicles (except public roads and the forest guard service).
The document introduces administrative responsibility for violation of the requirements for the protection of natural forests, primary forests, and quasi-primary forests. The corresponding changes were made to the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses, the Forest Code of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine "On the Natural Reserve Fund."
In addition, the law amended the Criminal Code of Ukraine on increasing responsibility for the illegal clearance of trees or shrubs in forests, protective and other forest plantations, in reserves or in territories and facilities of the natural reserve fund.