Report on forest clean-up
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with officials on 9 March to receive their report on the forest clean-up following the January storm.
The head of the state said that the corresponding tasks were set before the government and local authorities. The State Control Committee was to supervise the process.
“The task was to clean up forests as soon as possible and complete it in winter. The swampiness of the forests is big and groundwater stands high. It is not always possible to reach these areas in spring, let alone in summer. We must hurry up because all this timber will become unusable. Therefore, we had to quickly eliminate these consequences,” said the head of state.
According to the plans, all harvested timber must be removed to the roads by 15 March so that it can be handled in the spring and summer period.
“I know a lot has been done already. The Forestry Ministry has redirected forces and equipment to the most affected areas. The resources of non-state structures with logging complexes and individual entrepreneurs have been involved too,” said the President. According to him, for a qualitative clean-up works in the forests it is not enough to use administrative methods. It is necessary to involve those who work with wood processing, especially agricultural enterprises,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also touched upon the problems revealed by the State Control Committee in the forest industry. The head of state drew attention to the fact that not all the deadwood areas had been checked. There have been facts of unreasonable cutting of healthy stands. “We have to cut down wood which can die, and we start cutting healthy trees that are fit to stand for a year. If it is done in order to get to such areas, it is one thing. If they are just thoughtlessly cut down, that is another matter,” said the President.
There are cases of distortion of information about the actual work, the so-called embezzlement, the head of state continued. "Someone may go to jail for this. I am warning you,” he stressed.
Speaking about the problems in the industry, the President also emphasized the issue of improper accounting of the harvested timber, which creates prerequisites for corruption and theft. “I asked you, Yuri Viktorovich [Nazarov, Deputy Prime Minister], to take control of this work. You know better than anyone else in the country what the forest is and how to work with it,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“Timber is the most valuable resource for our country. Whatever sanctions are imposed against us, there is not enough timber worldwide. It will be in demand both in the European Union and our southern neighbors,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
He emphasized that the financial results of the processing and getting maximum profit are also of high importance. The process of harvesting has to be approached wisely and not be only economically justified, but also should not disturb the ecosystem, stated the President.
Forestry Minister Vitaly Drozhzha explained that there were two big storms during winter which lead to considerable areas of fallen and broken trees: more than 18,000 hectares with more than 634,000 cubic meters on 14 and 15 January and 7,000 hectares and up to 190,000 cubic meters in February.
“More than 28,0000 hectares of damaged forest areas have been taken into account in the volume of more than 900,000 cubic meters across the country, including 1,800 hectares (more than 560,000 cubic meters). These are the areas that required solid sanitary cutting,” the minister informed.