The beginning of the 9th session of the Verkhovna Rada distinguished by the adoption of the controversial bill, which, according to parliamentarians, tightens the moratorium on the export of commercial forests, but in fact, experts say, keeps the status quo for black loggers, smugglers and corrupt officials.
On 6 September, the deputies of 246 votes re-approved the bill No. 5495, including this time of the amendment of the President of Petro Poroshenko. Until then, we will remind, the head of state vetoed the document because of the contradictions with the provisions of the world trade organization (WTO) and the deep and comprehensive free trade area with the EU (DCFTA).
Now “corrected” by the President of the law does not provide for a moratorium on the export of wood. Also the document establishes quotas for domestic consumption of timber in the amount of 25 million cubic meters per year, and also introduces criminal liability for smuggling of roundwood.
Now, as stated in the explanatory note to the law, “cross-border movement of unprocessed timber beyond the customs control or concealed from customs control shall entail the penalty of imprisonment from 3 to 5 years. Smuggling, which is performed repeatedly or on preliminary arrangement by group of persons or by an official using his official position are punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term from 5 till 10 years with confiscation of property. If the crime is committed by an organized group of persons or in especially large size the penalty will be 10-12 years of imprisonment with confiscation”.
Thus, the new law, as noted by parliamentarians, is designed to toughen up measures to protect Ukrainian forests from illegal and uncontrolled deforestation, and to prevent the illegal export of timber abroad.
A new initiative of the President and deputies should become part of the legal “shield” for the forest, along with the ban on the export of roundwood in force in Ukraine in 2015. He, by the way, does not help the case: in the country continue to flourish illegal scheme to export unprocessed timber.
Thus, according to the British NGO, Earthsight, studying the problems of deforestation worldwide, only in 2017 Ukrainian loggers set to external customers wood at $ 1 billion, with 40% of the total volume of exported wood was cut down or sold illegally.
Overall, according to the report, Earthsight, in four years the export of Ukrainian woods to the EU countries increased by 75%. The main European importers of Ukrainian wood remain Romania and Poland.
Illegal timber from Ukraine, despite the EU regulations, is used by major manufacturers of wood boards and wooden panels, like something from Ikea, Egger, Swiss Krono and Kronospan, as well as a supplier of lumber Schweighofer, according to the material of the newspaper “Mirror of week”.
This European political partners of Ukraine prefer to close my eyes. Moreover, recent developments are showing signs of trading in this issue.
So, after the Parliament amended bill No. 5495, the European Union promptly removed the item about the forest-the timber from the agreement about the fourth program of macro-financial assistance to 1 billion euros. Although previously this position was in fact disrupted the third program.
According to the “European truth”, an unofficial condition for EU for the new agreement was the rejection of the strengthening of the protection of Ukrainian forests.
And this was achieved. Poroshenko, as mentioned above, through the mechanism of veto has made the abolition of the extension of the original moratorium, including a ban on the export of firewood.
According to experts, in connection with the new law, the state has de facto retained the status quo in the industry, as a valuable Carpathian forest is often exported outside the country under the guise of fuel wood.
“The presidential version of the law No. 5495 entirely subject to the wishes of European officials. That is, will continue to operate a scheme of illicit export of valuable species of forests in Europe. Europeans are satisfied and, accordingly, they Ukraine is ready to pay for it. In fact, nothing will change, and technically, our government will still receive money for it, and it will look like this, what we are fighting against smuggling. Here our government and European officials have found each other,” said political analyst Dmitry Korneychuk.
Economic expert Viktor Skarshevsky points out that Ukraine is due to many schemes lose, because when the wood is formed another added value is much higher than simply exporting raw materials. So, untreated wood is trading for $ 80-90 per cubic meter, whereas treated wood on world markets is already sold for 950$, for a nominal cubic meter.
“In fact, when Poroshenko in July vetoed the law No. 5495 and demanded to cancel the ability to export the wood, he supported the smuggling. In this situation, the Europeans are to blame in equal measure, as well as Ukrainians, because if they are not actively buying Ukrainian forest, smuggling would not have happened. Because up to 80% of the wood export goes to Europe. It is necessary to treat the two parties equally, not to say that in Europe everything is very good and there is no corruption. There, too, it is and European corruption is fueling the Ukrainian”, – concluded Skarshevsky.
Today the situation around the Ukrainian forests are more than alarming: forested area of Ukraine is already 11%. Poachers cut down a minimum of three million cubic metres of timber per year.
Environmentalists warn that the active deforestation threatens more frequent natural phenomena such as mudslides and landslides, because wood is, after all, carries a protective function.
According to ecologist Vladimir Boreyko, today, illegal logging in the country is a system. In addition to the poachers in the mass theft of the forest involved and government officials.
“There are main felling and sanitary felling. Illegal logging under the guise of sanitary are not only black loggers, and state forestry Agency. Foresters lie, that the circle is consumed, everything is dry. They harvest good, healthy wood and export it to Europe. They do not pay taxes for “sanitary” logging” – explains the scheme ecologist.