Rolling up the sleeves
Forest Ministry pledges to make lumbering attractive to private companies
Two months have already passed since the Presidential Decree № 504, aimed at the rational and efficient use of forests, came into force. In particular, the document provides for a phased transition to the realization of timber through exchange trades in harvested form exclusively. Under the new rules, 50 percent of the forest fund (except for leased and sold to regional executive committees) is to be traded like this in the current year, 75 percent in the next, and only timber in the hard-to-reach areas will be available as standing from 2015 on, reaching no more than 800 000 cubic meters in volume per annum.
«We are going towards selling finished products like pulpwood or saw log instead of standing timber, — Mikhail Amelyanovich, Forest Minister of Belarus, says. — As a consequence, this will create a need for additional lumbering capacities. So we want to get all kind of operators into this work, including private. They will be able to earn good money and develop their existing facilities. Rural residents, who can handle chainsaw, may also come and work under the contract at logging sites. Our task is to engage as wide a range of companies and individuals as possible».
The desire to encourage private operators is a conscious decision. Their share in the lumbering industry today is extremely small. Last year, the joint efforts of private companies have resulted in about 892 thousand cubic meters of harvested timber, that representing 5 % of the total volume.
Private companies complain about lack of organization in the forestry economy and delays in payments. They say they are also discouraged by unreasonably high prices the exchange charges for its services.
The officials of the Forest Ministry are aware of the problems and pledge to tackle these in the nearest future.
«There are unresolved issues, — Mikhail Amelyanovich acknowledges. — But to succed we must work together».
By the way
In 2012, the country harvested 17,9 million cubic meters of marketable timber, which is 200 thousand cubic meters more than the year before. Of this amount, the Forest Ministry share was 16.3 million cubic meters, or 91,6 %.