Whether Illegal Tree Felling Decreased in Armenia?

Whether Illegal Tree Felling Decreased in Armenia?

In 2018 և 2020, illegal logging decreased as compared to the previous years, as Mikael Santrosyan, Head of Plant Control Unit of Biodiversity Control Department of RA Nature Protection and Mining Inspection Body, said during “Forest Problems and Solutions of Armenia Having a Climate Regulatory Role" expert round table held at EcoLur Press Club on May 3, 2021.

“In 2017, more than 30,000 cases of illegal logging were recorded by RA Nature Protection and Mining Inspection Body in forestries. In 2018, the number of tree felling cases decreased to 12,821, and the case of illegal timber transportation amounted to 892 cubic meters. In 2019, 16,800 trees were found by the inspection body when transporting 3192 cubic meters. As early as 2020, 12,978 trees were illegally felled, the cases of illegal timber transportation amounted to 1646.4 cubic meters," Mikael Santrosyan said.

He noted that various criminal cases have been initiated on the fact of illegal logging, and decisions have been reached to appoint a professional inspector by investigators. "We have annual inspections. The Legal Aid Department is trying to develop a mechanism for working 24/7 in forestries. First of all, it is necessary to bring the material and technical basis to a very high level.

This depends on finances and multi-technical base. Economies need to be strengthened in order to have funds. We carry out annual program inspections, tours and preventive actions in terms of control. In 2019, four forestries were inspected on the basis of criminal cases. "We had one scheduled inspection in 2020, but it was suspended due to martial law," he said.

Expert Rosa Julhakyan responded to the reduction in the cases of illegal logging. "You said that in 2020 you found few violations. It was not the case there were fewer violations, but the work was not organized properly due to the situation.”

Oleg Dulgaryan, a participant in the discussion and chairman of Alaverdi-based “Community Mobilization and Support Center” NGO, touched upon the issues of deforestation in privatized areas.

"In Stepanavan, you do not know how thick and decade-aged birches that have been growing for decades have appeared in private areas. Many specially protected areas in Armenia have been privatized by this or that person. And that problem is too pressing. Today we want to plant ten million trees, but we are not able to maintain what we have. First, let's lay the foundations for the obligation of preservation, and then let's think about planting forests," Oleg Dulgaryan said.

In response, Mikael Santrosyan mentioned that the inspection body does not carry out control in private territories.

"We have legislative problems. The Law on Environmental Supervision does not apply environmental control, the calculation of damage to flora and fauna, to the private territories. We are working on that law. "We must submit proposals in order to be able to control, if possible, at least the leased areas, which are regulated by contractual relations," he said.

In his turn, Ruben Petroyan, an advisor at Forest Committee, noted that Forest Code has a mechanism for restoring the forest system, which, however, does not work.

Expert Rosa Julhakyan suggested at least maintaining the initial condition in case of privatization of the area. "There were ten trees, if those ten trees are preserved, it will be included in the contractual obligations. In that case, you will be the bidder, you can be a party to the contract, you can control their implementation," she said.

EcoLur expert Victoria Burnazyan wondered why no forest was planted in Teghut.

"We have a criminal case initiated in connection with Teghut in Special Cases Department of Investigative Committee. A decision was reached to appoint a professional inspector at Teghut mine, which is already sent to us. An inspection is planned in the near future. Questions raised by the investigator should be answered within our competences. It is connected with the movement of timber, how much timber was produced, how much timber from 357 hectares, how much construction wood, how much firewood,” the representative of the inspection body answered.

May 17, 2021 at 14:37