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The deeper into the wood you go, the more timber seems to grow

 

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     Main Control and Revision Office of Ukraine (MCRO) reports on violations of law by the State Committee on Forestry, June 10, 2009

     MCRO has completed revision of state-owned enterprises working in the field of forestry under auspices of the State Committee on Forestry of Ukraine. The revision covered the period of July 2007 – December 2008.
     In total, 356 enterprises and organizations were checked, the total amount of violations, misappropriations of funds and losses amounted to UAH 454 million.
     The main problem revealed was illegal alienation of state-owned forest land. Different schemes are based first of all on weak coordination and cooperation of the State Committee of Ukraine on Land Resources, State Committee of Ukraine on Forestry, local state administrations and local councils (radas).
     During 2007-2008 on the basis of decisions and resolutions of local councils and local state administrations about 4000 hectares of forest land was withheld from the permanent use of state forestry enterprises, alienated from the state and privatized. In addition, about 700 hectares of forest land was illegally seized.
     Such withholding and alienation of state-owned forest land becomes possible first of all because state forestry enterprises are very inactive in formalization of the permanent land use right. As of January 1, 2009 those enterprises held land titles on 2.026 million hectares which area makes up only 27% of land in their actual use.
     Land plots of forest land are often withheld and leased out or privatized on the basis of decisions and resolutions taken by local councils and local state administrations with abuse of power.
     For instance, Vasylkiv Rayon (District) state administration of Kiev Oblast with abuse of power withheld 160 hectares of forest land from the state-owned forestry enterprise “Kievlis” (Forest of Kiev).
     State administrations of Zakarpattya Oblast took resolutions on withholding 20.5 hectares of forest land without necessary preliminary approval of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
     Startling as it is, illegal alienation of forest land is often facilitated by court decisions.
     For example, Pechersk District Court of Kiev took a decision on free-of-charge transfer of 70 hectares of forest land from the state-owned experimental forestry enterprise (Kharkiv Oblast) to housing-building cooperative “Victoria”. The said cooperative sold this land to private limited liability company “Karkive Switzerland Lux” for UAH 5 million. According to the available information, the said LLC divided that land into 540 parcels and now selling these parcels via Internet. Price of sale is USD 350000 per hectare (total value is USD 189 million).
    Despite the fact that the Office of Public Prosecutor challenged the said decision of Pechersk District Court, similar decisions have been taken in Dniepropetrovsk Oblast (105 hectares of forest land) and in Mykolaiv Oblast (over 10 hectares).
    When withholding of forest land from the permanent use of state-owned enterprises is done legally, according to the prescribed procedures, the losses of state-owned enterprises incurred by the withholding are not reimbursed. As of January 01, 2009, state-owned enterprises did not receive UAH 16 million of such reimbursement payments.
    Another striking fact is that official reporting on available forest land does not reflect the actual state of affairs.
    The revision found clear differences between data on available forest land in statistics of the State Committee of Land Resources and the State Committee on Forestry. For example, in Kharkiv Oblast data of the State Committee on Forestry is exceeding data of the State Committee on Land Resources by 943 hectares.
    Among other violations revealed there are cases of illegal fell of timber, digging of mineral deposits, misappropriation of funds, illegal alienation of state property, careless use of forest resources and violation of tender procedures.
    MCRO reported these results to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
 

This summary in English is produced by MyLand, 2009.

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