The position of the Russian Forest association on the implementation of climate projects on agricultural land

The regulation on the specifics of the use, protection, protection, reproduction of forests located on agricultural lands was prepared on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation and approved by Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of September 21, 2020 No. 1509.

According to this document, the right holder, within two years from the date of its entry into force or from the date of registration of the right to the relevant land plot, can notify Rosselkhoznadzor about the use of forests located on such a plot, indicating the type of their use. Therefore, a notification procedure is provided here.

Repeatedly, the regulator (Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia) made efforts to amend this document. In particular, it was proposed to actually prohibit the use of agricultural land for forestry and to introduce a permitting procedure instead of a notification one. At the same time, it was proposed to strictly limit the owner's ability to obtain a positive decision in terms of the terms and parameters of the land plot.

Until now, the expert community has opposed such changes, the association «Russian Forest» and «Support of Russia» have also carried out relevant work. Our position was repeatedly supported by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation during the assessment of the regulatory impact. But the discussion continues.

The appearance of the document "On the peculiarities of the use, protection, protection, reproduction of forests located on agricultural lands" is a big step forward. On these lands, it is possible to consistently and effectively work out the mechanism of private ownership of forests, which is widespread in other states. For example, in the United States, more than 70% of forests are privately owned, in Sweden - 82%, in Finland - about 68% of the total forest fund. In our country, the topic of distribution of ownership of forest areas between the state and the private sector is one of the most controversial and discussed.

If we talk about the implementation of climate projects on agricultural land, then we support the corresponding instruction of the President of the Russian Federation to the government, which should analyze the conditions for the implementation of such activities and submit proposals for amending the legislation.

According to expert data, the area of unused agricultural land suitable for growing forests is more than 75 million hectares. These are not only potential carbon units and additional assistance in achieving carbon neutrality indicators: by growing forests on unused agricultural land, it is possible to increase timber harvesting and create additional jobs.

Of course, such programs should be included in the register of climate projects that can be implemented in Russia. On behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, such a register must be approved by March 1, 2022. It will provide for the ranking of climate projects by cost, implementation timeframe and expected effect of reducing and (or) absorbing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Today it is already obvious that we are in the trend of global warming. Therefore, attracting investments in the decarbonization of industry through the implementation of climate projects is one of the priorities of the Russian Forest association.