The position of the association on amendments to forestry legislation

On May 12, 2021, the State Duma of the Russian Federation in the first reading approved bills on reforming forest reproduction, forest management, as well as on unifying the conceptual apparatus of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation.

For business - forestry enterprises - several favorable changes can be noted.

1. The bill on forest reproduction provides for an increase in the terms of fulfillment of obligations for "compensatory" reforestation from one year to three years, provided that agrotechnical maintenance of forest crops is carried out within 3 years after their planting. The need for such a postponement has been discussed since last year due to the unfavorable situation associated with the spread of coronavirus infection, and is now reflected in this bill.

It is also important that competition is not limited in terms of carrying out work on "compensatory" reforestation. Such concerns were expressed by industry participants, we talked about this at the site of the National Forest Forum and discussed with business associations. Therefore, we consider it correct that market relations remain here. Another innovation stipulates that in the absence of lands in the subject of the Russian Federation that need reforestation, it should be carried out on the territories of the subjects of the Russian Federation, determined by the authorized federal executive body. Previously, this was a legislative gap, there was no understanding of how to carry out these activities where there is no reforestation fund, while no one canceled the corresponding responsibility.

2. The draft law on the unification of the conceptual apparatus of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation introduces the concepts of "forest complex", "timber", "processed and unprocessed timber". In the light of the instructions of the President of the Russian Federation on the introduction of a ban on the export of unprocessed and roughly processed wood, there were concerns about an ambiguous interpretation of the terminology. If the bill is adopted, these risks are excluded.

According to the bill, unprocessed timber includes logs (cleared from branches, felled, sawed, cut tree trunks that are not subject to division into assortments by transverse or longitudinal division), unprocessed assortments (timber obtained by transverse division of trunks that have undergone primary (coarse) processing ( removal of bark and sapwood, pruning of branches, separation of the top and root part of tree trunks, transverse division of tree trunks into assortments), including logs, pulpwood, sawlogs), firewood and other fuel wood.

However, we also note a number of changes unfavorable for the activities of forestry enterprises. For example, amendments to the bill on reforming the forest management system, which transfers the functions of its implementation to the federal level. In fact, this represents a monopolization of these works on the lands of the forest fund.

It seems absolutely correct that forest management work should be carried out in accordance with a single federal plan, but the elimination of the mechanism of market relations in this case is considered inappropriate. This can adversely affect pricing. In addition, the bill establishes that unscheduled forest management should be carried out by state institutions and at the expense of forest users.

There is a likelihood of a lack of resources to carry out such work. Accordingly, contractors will be attracted by the federal state budgetary institution. The question arises as to why the lessee of a forest plot cannot, at his discretion, order these works in the conditions of market relations, if he pays for them from his own funds. For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that private forest management organizations still have the opportunity to carry out work on a contract with a federal state budgetary institution, but everything depends on pricing, whether it will be economically expedient to work under the conditions that will be established.