Sonya Hovsepyan, Expert at “National Centre for Legislative Regulation” PIU SA, commented on the amendments to RA Forest Code at the round table “Climate Change – Civil Society as Main Partner and Beneficiary” held at “EcoLur” Press Club on 24 March.
Reminder: these amendments envisage permission of site development in the forest and elimination of a forest ticket.
Referring to the introduction of site development right in the Forest Code Sonya Hovsepyan said, “The president of our country assigned us to review and reduce the burden, all those administrative drawbacks, which exist in our country. There was a contradiction between the Soil Code and Forest Code. The problem is that the right to site development is not leasing or sale, it’s a special type of rent, which is a usual business practice in all the countries, we studied. Here the problem is that the land by the site development right belongs only to the state and is given to lease. This amendment is made to prevent taking forest land areas as title, which is the practice now. One of the possible versions is site development right fees, which may serve a basis for establishing such a financial source, which will come to solve those important and urgent problems that exist.”
Nazeli Vardanyan, Director of “Forests of Armenia” NGO opposes to site development right, “This provision is set in RA Forest Code to promote forestation by private or international organization in those areas, where there has been no forest or there is no natural recovery and our state won’t be able to plant forests in these areas in upcoming several decades. This provision sets the person, who expresses a wish to found a forest in the mentioned area, should incur huge expenses for around 10-12 years to recover the fertile layer of the land, to buy plants, to have them planted, watered, taken care of, to lay a forest row and only afterwards s/he can become the owner of this forest and is obliged to incur expenses for forest preservation and conservation. This provision can’ have adversary effect on the forests. This amendment is entirely illegal, as it contradicts to a number of provisions of the Armenian legislation. According to the Armenian legislation, site development is not permitted on the state or community land areas given for lease.”
RA Agriculture Ministry and Nature Protection Ministry didn’t oppose to the proposal to carry out site development in the forest.
Commenting on why the concept of a forest ticket is eliminated from Forest Code, Sonya Hovsepyan said, “In regard with the forest tickets in particular, we, in fact, carried out a positive step for people, so as they can collect non-wood forest products and not to pay any fee…We have studied the international experience for rather a long time, which shows there are countries, where non-wood production is advanced, such as Brazil and Thailand. Why not to make it a sort of production for us.”
The Agriculture Ministry objected to the elimination of forest ticket concept from Forest Code substantiating it that without a forest ticket the unlimited and non-regulated use of non-wood forest products can result in causing damage to forest biodiversity, including red-listed rare plant and animal species, which are on the verge extinction. Nevertheless, the objection hasn't been accepted.
Karine Danielyan, President of “Association for Sustainable Human Development” NGO, asked, “How has the government sent this bill to the National Assembly know that the public opposes to it?” Sonya Hovsepyan replied, “Public opinion has been taken into consideration, it’s another question to what extent this opinion is substantiated to those proposals made by is. Maybe our substantiation was more grounded than the expert opinion.”
The material is prepared by 'EcoLur' Informational NGO under “Armenia’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC” UNDP-GEF/00079327” project.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or the UN Member States.
13:31 April 27, 2016