Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk within the framework of a working visit to Chernihiv region called on the Head of the State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine Andrii Zablotsky to dismiss the Head of the Chernihiv Regional Forest and Hunting Department Olexandr Zinchenko due to significant violations in the state forestry of Chernihiv region.
Last year illegal logging in the region caused damage to the tune of UAH 2.3 million to the state. At the same time, only a sum worth UAH 27,300 thousand that is less than 0.1%, was reimbursed by lawbreakers. In addition, in 2019 a number of forest enterprises in Chernihiv region have an unsatisfactory financial situation and a decline in sales of products.
"As far as I am aware, Mr Zinchenko headed the Kharkiv Regional Forest Department before. Now we are also detecting major violations there. During the 2019 year alone, illegal logging to the tune of more than UAH 350 million was detected. But despite this, in June last year, the previous leadership of the State Forest Resources Agency, shortly before the arrival of the President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kharkiv, decided to appoint Olexander Zinchenko to Chernihiv department for some reason," Oleksiy Honcharuk stressed.
The PM added that no one will work beyond the pale of the law: "The Government consistently eradicates corruption schemes and abuses in Ukraine's forestry sector and kicks off the fight against illegal sawmills. Last year the budget did not receive UAH 803 million due to the “black markets”. This is an unacceptable story."
Therefore, during the meeting on counteracting illegal natural-resource economic activity, Oleksiy Honcharuk instructed:
- heads of Regional State Administrations to take effective measures to introduce electronic logging of timber by all forest users;
- the management of the State Forest Resource Agency: to create a map of places of legal wood processing, with the possibility of giving to the public reports about illegal sawmills;
- Ministry of Internal Affairs - from March 1, 2020, to ensure that control measures are taken during transportation of rough timber;
The Prime Minister stressed that the Government, for its part, had already introduced a number of measures to control and legalize forestry activities.
In particular, the work of all forest users will now be open and transparent - they will work exclusively in the electronic system of permits for wood production.
Anyone can enter open.ukrforest.com website to check the legality of the timber by tag number, car number and consignment note.
Moreover, one can check the permits for wood production via telephone. The State Forest Resources Agency has launched a pilot project "Forest in Smartphone" with an online forest map that is accessible to all Ukrainians. Oleksiy Honcharuk personally inspected the process of operation of the "Forest in Smartphone".
"This is a pilot project implemented by the State Forest Resources Agency. Now everyone can see with their own eyes the online map of cutting, to check whether the cutting is legal on the map or check the lists of the logging tickets. Thanks to Forest in a Smartphone, anyone who is indifferent will be able to inform law enforcement agencies about illegal logging", the Head of Government said.
The project already covers most of the forest enterprises in 18 regions. However, today there are still enterprises, including in Chernihiv region, which do not enter data into the electronic accounting system, although marking of timber covers 95% of enterprises.
The Prime Minister urged public forest enterprises to step up the work on providing information to fill the data of the Forest in Smartphone project launched by the State Forestry Resources Agency.
In addition, since early February, the Government launched a pilot project to sell all timber through electronic auctions. However, according to the Prime Minister, the communal forest enterprises are not interested in the said process.
"The public forest enterprises do not demonstrate interest in putting up timber for auctions on the Prozorro. Sales and other e-platforms. Enterprises in Chernihiv regions have not set for an auction any cubic metre of wood!" the Head of Government said and urged businesses to engage more actively in this process.