Posted 24 августа 2023,, 13:16
Published 24 августа 2023,, 13:16
Modified 25 августа 2023,, 06:42
Updated 25 августа 2023,, 06:42
The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation has published a draft order that should facilitate disputes between land owners and forestry. The agency has been conducting a «forest amnesty» for several years, which should try on the state forest background and millions of land owners who somehow received plots along the borders or on the territory of forests. The new document, which is currently undergoing public discussion and has yet to undergo an anti-corruption examination, expands the possibilities of land owners.
«Putting in order two state registers — GLR and EGRN — we realized that there are sites on which it is no longer advisable to conduct forestry, for example, because of their small area, but we, due to the lack of suitable criteria, could not grant amnesty to such territories. The criteria that we have developed together with the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia will allow the amnesty of disputed areas. This will help preserve the property rights of citizens and protect their property,» explained Vyacheslav Spirenkov, Deputy head of the Federal Forestry Agency.
So what is it about? First of all, about land plots that intersect with the forest fund. The document says that if there are legal buildings on this site, and the intersection with the forest does not exceed 10 acres, then such disputed lands should be given to people.
«All boundaries of a land plot of a different category are adjacent to the boundaries of land plots that do not belong to the category of forest fund lands, provided that the area of the geometric figure formed by the intersection of a land plot of a different category with forest fund lands does not exceed 0.1 hectares, including in the case of wedging, interspersing, broken borders, interlacing», — the document says.
In addition, without disputes, the forestry enterprise will give up the land on which there are burials, animal burial grounds and linear objects — these are roads, power lines, pipelines.
The reaction of environmentalists to the document is negative. So, the tg-channel «Ecodictature», believes that unscrupulous developers who «cut off» a piece of forest can take advantage of the norm.
«According to the document, if there is a certain plot with a house and he „climbed“ on the lands of the forest fund for less than 10 acres, then the built-up plot is excluded from the lands of the forest fund. The only requirement for obtaining a freebie is the legal registration of the site. Obviously, courts with landowners who, with the connivance of the authorities, confused the boundaries of the forest fund and lands of other categories, will sink into oblivion,» experts say.
Some questions relate to the points about animal burial grounds, apparently municipalities will be obliged to monitor these sites.
Forest amnesty in Russia has been going since 2017. This is the process of matching the data in the unified real estate register and the forest register. By 2017, the volume of inconsistencies took on such a scale that, according to documents in Russia's land turned out to be one and a half times more than it is in reality. This happened because of double counting, when forestry enterprises kept their own register and considered land plots their own, and in parallel, local authorities cut plots around cities for settlements and a business object, and the Rosreestr issued ownership rights to this land. Sometimes it happened by accident, by mistake or oversight, and sometimes by malicious intent, when delicious areas of the forest turned out to be in private hands. As a result, this led to conflicts when forestry enterprises sued the owners, sometimes to criminal cases.
The scale of the problem in 2022 was reported by the Commissioner for the Rights of Entrepreneurs Boris Titov, who attributed the discrepancy between the categories of land plots in the information databases of various departments to one of the problems hindering the development of business in Of Russia.
«Due to the imposition in the databases of Rosreestr and other departments of the boundaries of forest fund lands on land plots of other categories (for example, agricultural, industrial, etc.), entrepreneurs-tenants of land plots are held liable for misuse of land or causing damage. The executive authorities of the subjects of the Russian Federation authorized in the field of forest relations are obliged to bring the information of the state forest register in line with the information of the Unified State Register of Real Estate by January 1, 2023, however, since this work is carried out unevenly across the subjects of the Russian Federation, the problem of data inconsistency continues to be relevant,» the report of the business Ombudsman says.
In the case of ordinary citizens who have cottages or houses that have completely and partially «climbed» the scale of the problem is even greater. Almost 300 million hectares across the country were disputed. Therefore, in 2017, an amnesty was launched, when citizens could officially take away pieces of the forest fund that intersected with their plots.
According to Rosreestr, duplication was eliminated with respect to plots with a total area of 274 million hectares. Now it remains to clarify only 6 million hectares. It was not possible to finish the work until 2023, the amnesty was extended until 2026.
The main risk of amnesty is an opportunity for unscrupulous owners to evade responsibility. Land in a good location is an expensive asset and scandals related to the illegal transfer of certain plots into private hands are constantly breaking out. For example, in the Chelyabinsk region, a scandal has been developing for several years around a VIP village on the shore of the resort lake Uvildy. In 2019, the investigative authorities brought to court a case against a group of officials who took away a piece of forest. Charges were brought against the former director of the state institution «Specially protected natural Territories of the Chelyabinsk region», which is responsible for natural monuments, Ilya Prutskikh, the former head of the Chelyabinsk Department of Culture Dmitry Nazarov and the ex-director of the municipal cultural institution «Spartak» Andrey Grigoriev. In addition, the head of the Argayash district, where the site is located, and former vice-governor Alexander Ufimtsev, who left the country and did not sit in the dock, were under investigation. According to the investigation, in 2009-2010, the accused received the right to use a forest plot classified as protective forests in the area of a natural monument — Lake Uvildy. The land was given to them for the organization of the children's camp «Spartak» for gifted children. But soon the land was transferred from use to ownership, cut into plots and sold among the highest officials of the region and large entrepreneurs. The camp was not even in the project, the territory was immediately fenced off, taken under protection and began to build elite housing.
The criminal case on the second attempt was initiated at the request of the main forest department for the region, which suddenly discovered that a closed village for VIP appeared on the site assigned to the forest fund. As a result, only the head of the district was punished, who was convicted for issuing a construction permit, knowing about the murky scheme with the land. The other three defendants escaped punishment due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. In parallel, the prosecutor's office tried to demolish the illegal settlement, but the houses from the reserved shore have not disappeared yet.