WWF-RUSSIA: STOP LOGGING IN SOLOKH-AUL DISTRICT
On August 30, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Krasnodar Region published a refutation of the WWF-Russia's press-release “Natural Heritage of the Caucasus Goes Under the Hammer.” However, this refutation is baseless for several reasons.
WWF-Russia would like to point out that in Resolution No. 534 of June 25, 2013, “On Extension of the Territory of the Sochi National Park,” the Government of the Russian Federation approved the boundaries of the Sochi National Park in accordance with the appendix to the resolution, which specified that the territory of the Solokh-Aul Forest Management Unit fell within the boundaries of the Sochi National Park.
It is evident that the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Krasnodar Region is continuing to conduct large-scale logging on this territory, taking advantage of the fact that the forest fund lands have not yet been assigned the category of protected areas in accordance with the government resolution.
However, according to Article 15, cl. 4 of the Federal Law No. 33-FZ “On Protected Areas” (as amended on December 28, 2016), the federal executive bodies in charge of environmental protection must approve social and economic activities proposed by commercial entities on the territory of national parks.
The clause contains no direct reference to the categorisation of the lands as defined by the Land Code, but is concerned with whether the land has been assigned to the National Park.
Therefore, regardless of the categorisation of the land, any economic activity carried out by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Krasnodar Region in the territory of the national park is subject to approval by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. In the absence of such approval by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Krasnodar Region is in violation of the law by selling the right to make purchase and sale agreements of forest sites for logging within the boundaries of the Sochi National Park.
We would also like to point out that according to Resolution No. 534 of June 25, 2013 the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia must act to conserve ecosystems and nature sites in the aforementioned territory preventing any activities inconsistent with the goals and purposes of the national park.
The Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia has already responded to the WWF-Russia's appeal and filed a petition with the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation asking it to take control of the situation, noting that the regional ministry is delaying the re-categorisation of the land.