The Forest Dialogue held in Objachevo (Priluzje district of Komi) was initiated by the administration of Priluzje district and Priluzje forestry unit. The urgent forest use issues were discussed during the Dialogue.
Among the participants of the Dialogue “Forest relations: problems and ways out” were: the heads of the district Council and Administration, Priluzje and Letka forestry units, representatives of Mondi Syktyvkar and Luzales ltd., the heads of the administration of all rural settlements of Priluzje district, activists of the district social entities – Priluzje branch of “Komi Voityr”, the district Council of Elders and the district Council of Veterans. The representatives of the Komi State Forestry Service, Komi State Council and Silver Taiga Foundation participated in the Dialogue as well. Therefore, all interested parties (municipal officials, forest business, state forestry service, social entities and local population) took part in the discussion of the local forest use problems.
What problems were discussed? According to Alexander Boiko, the economic development manager of the district Administration, the local population complains about loggings close to the villages, breaking of roads and brook bridges by the heavy vehicles. There are also complaints about late transportation of wood out of logging sites. Another problem according to Alexander Boiko is that the outside logging companies which are operating in the district don’t pay anything to the district budget and losses of their activity are not covered at all.
Andrei Navalikhin, department head of the Komi State Forestry Service, presented a forestry legislative review, problems raised due to legislative imperfection and possible ways out of these problems.
According to Andrei issues devoted to the participation of the local population in forest management and local forest use are not properly developed in the Forestry Code 2006 compared to the previous one. The situation is eased a bit by the Legislative Act of the Komi Republic №136 “Management of forest relations on the territory of the Komi Republic”. As for loggings close to the villages (according to the legislation this is a commercial forest area and that is why it is rented out to the logging companies), Andrei proposed two possible ways out taking into consideration the current forestry legislation. The first one – to rent out this area to the local government and so to delegate all management functions to the local authorities. But it is impossible to fulfill all the functions on the local level. The second one – legislative initiative on development of «social forests» as a type of a designated area. Andrei also gave the participants to understand that according to the Forestry Code there are no any green (protected) areas close to the villages and such areas can be developed and legalized only as one of the designated area types.
The discussion was continued by the head of Priluzje forestry unit Alexander Kindsfater. He told that the opinions of the local population concerning the use of the forests close to the villages differ. Even now many people are not satisfied that forest sites available for local population use are far from the villages.
Alexander noticed that that the problem is urgent and each situation should be analyzed individually. This idea was also supported by the head of Letka forestry unit Sergei Ketov. The leasing area of some logging companies (Luzales ltd., Northern Timber Company ltd.) is really very close to the villages. It should be mentioned, that Luzales ltd. has refused to cut on some area for the benefit of the local population.
The following issues were also brought up: control over loggings, state of the forest area after cutting. «Unfortunately, according to the legislation there can be only two types of a law violation: illegal cutting outside the leasing area and destruction of young trees», – said Andrei Navalikhin. – Moreover, the State Forestry Service can carry out an inspection of the leaseholders only once in three years». Besides, the quality of control has also suffered because of the staff reduction: it has reduced six times over the last 10 years. In this connection Andrei paid the participants’ attention on the fact that an extraordinary inspection can be done only according to the request of the local population. That is why the more people act in this direction, the less violations are done.
Head of the district Council of Elders Semen Tugolukov agreed with this opinion: it is necessary to conduct a departmental and a public control. By the way, according to the participants of the Dialogue it is necessary to conduct a public control not only in the forest: once again the issue of non-purpose use of wood, allocated for buildings by the local population was brought up. The first necessary condition of public control conduction is information awareness. Not by accident Semen Tugolukov remembered, that Mondi Syktyvkar sends letters to a wide range of the interested parties asking about forest areas important for the local population. They also attach maps to the letters. As for Luzales ltd. they don’t have such experience yet. We wish the other logging companies would also do the same. Besides, the participants of the Forest Dialogue proposed to each settlement to have a map of nearby forest areas which are under lease in order to be informed about the general situation.
Head of Priluzje branch of “Komi Voityr” Konstantin Serditov spoke about the role of non-governmental organizations in regulation of forest relations. He mentioned that the Community Council, the district Council of Elders and Priluzje branch of “Komi Voityr” regularly raise forest use issues. Konstantin presented concrete proposals of the non-governmental organizations, for example, some amendments to the legislative act of the Komi Republic «Regulation of forest relations on the territory of the Komi Republic».
The participants of the Forest Dialogue proposed to the non-governmental organizations and the forestry units to update the maps important for the local population. It was also suggested Luzales ltd. to send out the preliminary plan of cutting to agree it with the local population. All the participants agreed to initiate the development and adoption of a normative act concerning public hearings on the issue of forest area leasing on the regional level because due to the changes in the federal legislation it is not necessary now to conduct public hearings and they are practically not conducted. All these conclusions are included into the final document of the Forest Dialogue.
Sustainable forest management and forest use are possible only when the opinions of all forest stakeholders are taken into consideration. That is why it is very important to arrange a negotiation process between the stakeholders. The Forest Dialogue gives such opportunity. The representatives of Priluzje district have participated in the Forest Dialogues conducted by Silver Taiga Foundation for several times already and so they have decided to transfer this experience to their district. The director of Silver Taiga Foundation Yury Pautov was invited to manage the Dialogue in Priluzje.
It looks like the first Forest Dialogue in Priluzje district has become a platform not only for the problem discussions but also for findings of better solutions, mutual understanding and cooperation.
Translated by Anastasia Popova