The military demands the right for cutting without permits

The military demands the right for cutting without permits
The military demands the right for cutting without permits
20 May, 09:47
The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation wants to get the right to cut down forest plantations without permits. The draft of this government decree, developed by the Ministry of Defense, is published on the portal of draft regulatory legal acts. Novye Izvestia tried to figure out what this could lead to.

Irina Mishina

"It is allowed to carry out selective felling and clearcutting of forest plantations (trees, shrubs) of any age and intensity, regardless of the intended purpose of forests for defense needs, without providing forest plots and issuing permits", - is stated in the the draft document.

Cutting according to order

According to the draft resolution, after the felling, the "federal executive body for defense" will have to send a notification about the felling to the authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation. And it looks like this document is non-negotiable.

"The forest is federal property. If the state needs it for military purposes in the context of current events, there can be no questions”, - says retired Major General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Mansur Yusupov.

"Everything related to defense and security is non-negotiable. Let's suppose that deforestation will be needed for the hidden positions of our armed forces, for mines, for missile sites, for the placement of other weapons. And if the cut areas are used for generals' dachas, they should be imprisoned for this and asked according to the law", - says retired FSB Major General Alexander Mikhailov.

But there are other opinions about this.

"My personal opinion is that such expansion of powers is superfluous and at least premature. We have not introduced an emergency regime in connection with the NMD, we have not declared war... Why make such decisions in advance, which will then be difficult to win back? In my opinion, this is an excessive regulatory legal act", - Vladimir Morozov, chairman of the Public Council under the Federal Forestry Agency , told NI.

Fears about "generals' dachas" are not unfounded. But if it were only in the generals' dachas, this is not so bad. The fact that the Ministry of Defense is perhaps the largest "landowner" in Russia is no secret to anyone. How many and what plots "from Moscow to the outskirts" to the nearest hectare is under the jurisdiction of the military, even the military officials themselves do not know. Taking into account the many years of reductions, redeployments and liquidations of military units, it is difficult to keep track of all this wealth, and it is costly to start systematic inventories. But there is one clearly recorded fact - the lands belonging to the Ministry of Defense periodically become the subject of some commercial transactions. The scheme is the same in all cases ...

Why commerce flourishes on the lands of the Ministry of Defense

In total, the Ministry of Defense owns 12 million hectares of land. Most of these areas are uninhabited areas. The military conduct exercises there and store equipment. Of course, the Ministry of Defense cannot keep track of all this. The ministry has the right to provide temporarily unused territories to citizens and legal entities for hunting, agriculture or forestry. The terms of such a lease can be up to 50 years. And the state loses in this case the right to control thousands of hectares of federal lands. Thus federal lands often fall into the hands of private companies on favorable terms for the latter. And this happens quite often. So often that we can talk about the current system in which, in addition to businessmen and the military, there is one more actor - the municipal authorities. The mechanism worked out, apparently, works like this: mayors give thousands of hectares of forest to private traders, as if without informing the military. After that, the Ministry of Defense did not notice the construction of dachas and cottages on its territory for a long time. And then the military suddenly see the light and begin to make half-hearted attempts to regain their territory. But due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the court refuses to initiate proceedings.

Arbitration courts show that this scheme is well-established. One of them is the situation in Kaliningrad, where the dispute between the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the city administration over the land in the Max-Ashman Park does not subside. The Ministry of Defense, proceeding from the fact that this is the land of military camp No. 8-a, held a competition for the construction of residential buildings there. The developer must receive a plot of 2.2 hectares. The result is a trial with an unclear result.

There are many such facts. For example, the Stupino city prosecutor's office checked the appeal of the central department of the Russian Ministry of Defense about the illegal actions of the administration of the Stupinsky municipal district of the Moscow region in relation to lands that are federally owned and assigned to the military department. The local authorities wanted to build a market there. However, the military suddenly saw the light and announced that the land plot with a total area of 40.61 hectares is in federal ownership. The outcome of the case is also unclear.

The Ministry of Defense often makes angry statements about the "misappropriation" of its lands and even recognizes the high probability of corruption violations in the lease of its territories. But here it must be borne in mind that the department does not act as a direct lessor. There are mysterious stories when the local administration allegedly "arbitrarily" disposes of federal lands under the jurisdiction of the military, and the military for decades allegedly do not suspect the commercial activities of large companies on their territories. Including - in the forests.

The scheme works clearly and unmistakably, so the transfer of forest land for cutting down by the military under the pretext of a special operation is beneficial to everyone, including local authorities. It is not difficult to guess that giving the military the right to uncontrolled deforestation will lead to a repetition of commercial scenarios. And instead of placing anti-aircraft missile systems on the territory of the former forests, cottage settlements or frankly commercial clearing will be located.

They cut the forest - the chips fly and the rivers become shallow

But with the forests we already have trouble. In Russia, more trees are killed and cut down than are planted. Now almost 766 million hectares of forest are located on the territory of our country. For five years, their area has decreased by 0.5%, the total stock of wood has decreased by the same amount. The volume of conifers falls the most - by 527.59 million cubic meters. Annually, clear cuttings of forests are carried out on an area of more than 1.1 million hectares. It is not possible to fully compensate for the loss of forest areas, this was shown by the audit of the Accounts Chamber.

The main consequence of deforestation is a reduction in the circulation of moisture on the ground, the climate becomes drier. Another significant threat of deforestation is the death of a huge number of small and large animals, and this is damage to biological diversity. The consequences for human health from forest fires are obvious - this is the ingress of small particles of soot into the human body, and bacteria and various toxins can enter the body with soot. Prolonged exposure to this type can lead to severe respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

There is another consequence of deforestation. One of Russia's leading ecologists, chairman of the Public Council under the Federal Forestry Agency Vladimir Morozov, recently told NI that deforestation threatens Russia's national security. The fact is that old forests, without cutting areas, act as a kind of pump that draws moisture to the continent, and this, in turn, maintains the water balance. The more forests are cut down, the weaker this natural "pump" works and, accordingly, there is a threat of shallowing of full-flowing rivers - the source of fresh drinking water in Russia.

Economic activity

Why did all these manipulations with forest areas become possible? One of the reasons is the Forest Code, adopted in 2006, which effectively eliminated the institution of forestry and reduced the number of people employed in forestry. Ecologists said that initially it did not even have the concept of "forest protection". The shortage of workers and mismanagement in the forests is so obvious that even officials admit it. “In fact, under the old Forest Code, there were almost five times more people. Now there are about 1,000 inspectors, firefighters, all of them, and earlier there were about 5,000 for the entire region. Of course, this is not enough”, - said Sergei Lavrov, Deputy Minister of Ecology of the Chelyabinsk Region.

If not a single state department is centrally engaged in the forest, anyone starts to manage it. The military themselves admit it.

“The forest today is a windbreak and deadwood. No one cleans, does not clean, does not control. A lightning strike, a thrown cigarette butt - and everything can flare up", - says retired FSB Major General Alexander Mikhailov. - Previously, a forester was responsible for a specific section of the forest, and if the deadwood was not removed, if fires were lit, all the responsibility was on him, on the forester. And now in the forest, in fact, there is no owner.

The forests have many owners, including the Ministry of Defense. But for some reason this is increasingly leading to their destruction and mismanagement.

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