WWF: The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Krasnodar Region should be claimed for damages
September this year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) uncovered that the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Krasnodar region had sold for logging 45 allotments of designated (specially protected) forests, where logging is prohibited. WWF-Russia notified Rosleskhoz, which carried out an unscheduled inspection and acknowledged the violations. As a result, the Ministry was ordered to remedy the violations and hold involved officials accountable.
"We appreciate that Rosleskhoz examined our application so closely, but the exact mechanism of recovering damages caused by the illegal loggings in the designated areas is still unclear. Therefore, we have decided to file another request to Rosleskhoz," — Elena Cherkasova, Forest Projects Coordinator at the Russian Caucasus Office of WWF-Russia says.
Investigation by Rosleskhoz, inspired by WWF-Russia, checked validity of forest logging permits issued for the designated areas, where logging is prohibited by law. According to Rosleskhoz, of the 45 allotments pointed out by the Fund, only 6 actually enjoy the status of designated protected areas, and on 4 of them forest logging took place through malfeasance of the Ministry.
The letter from Rosleskhoz with the results of the inspection implies still one more conclusion: the rest cases violate legislation as well. The Ministry voluntarily and unreasonably canceled or altered the designated area status of allotments thus violating section 6 of Article 102 and clause 26 of Article 81 of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation. By the letter of the law, these actions do not constitute the event of illegal sale of protected areas for logging, but in reality, stripping the areas of their protected status poses immediate threat of their illegal sale and logging.
WWF-Russia is concerned for the future of the rest allotments with unlawfully canceled or altered protected status, and calls on the regional authorities to step beyond simple acknowledgment of violations and restore protected status of the areas. Furthermore, WWF insists on insufficiency of disciplinary penalty for the damages caused by actual loggings in the designated areas, and calls on the Ministry of Nature of the Russian Federation to set forth particular measures for collecting pecuniary damage from the regional authorities. Violations described herein are not the first case when the Ministry sells protected forests for logging. Apparently, disciplinary penalties applied before has not exercised the expected effect on the regional authorities. More focused and effective measures, imposing real rather than formal punishment for the wrongdoers, like paying pecuniary damage, will help to prevent unlawful practices in the region.
Photo in the heading and preview: (c) WWF-Russia