пʼятниця, 24 квітня 2015 р.

The wooden lobby

Deputies have forbidden wood export in order to rescueforest from a massive slash. But independent experts are convinced - this is a new challenge for a forest, made by deputies.

"You would not believe, but in the Carpatians, doesn't matter if it's Saturday or Sunday – there always is a truck mowing towards forest and coming back at night. People from villages think that 6 days a week they are working for the state, and one day - for themselves. That is to say that they are trying to compensate some money. All this efforts without a state control had turned into illegal things and effects are horrible", - says BogdanProts, the representative of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) in Ukraine.

Illegal slashes and widespread wood-export from Ukraine isn't a new problem and there are efforts to solve it lasting more than 10 years. Because of the lack of state policyconcerning woodand timber products, forest sector economy is in a situation close to a crisis.

In April 2015 deputies gave vote for the bill, which passes moratorium for export of wood. "For" have voted 233 members of the parliament.

Neither furniture nor wood raw

Moratorium for export isn't a new way for treatment of the branch from forest degradation. Even before voting for a document, it has prompted outrage among bunch of researchers.  

Particularly VasylMasiuk, publisher of the newspaper "Derevoobrobnyk" says, that such attempt to improve the conditions in wood-based industries will fail, because it doesn't touch real reasons the decline of industry.
"The same kind of thing is when you set potatoes and in a year could not pick it - because of low-restriction. And it will just perish. A goal of agronomy as business is a collection of material at the time of achieving ripeness. If you will not collect goods, it will lose its quality. It will cause negative consequences for nature in long-term perspective. There is no question about the Ukrainian manufacturer, there is a problem about consumer. Ukrainians today don’t have money for buying furniture. If Ukrainians don't have money to buy oak door and German people do - let's sell this door and put the money in development of our economy", - says VasylMasiuk.

In addition, says expert, Ukrainian wood is a renewable resource, we almost don’t have natural forests, 96% of them are of artificial origin.
"I do not see the positive consequences of this bill. In fact, we are limiting foresters to sell round logs. What results will it cause? Foresters will invest in recycling. They will use processing facilities and will sell wood as lumber. Is this strategically good? I have big doubts, because investment resources will be diverted from direct forest management, forest road construction, purchase of special equipment for forestry development, the purchase of planting material ...Foresters will develop non-core activity. When I hear, that it will help woodworking businesses get cheaper raw materials and they will compete with richer foreign buyers, I have a doubt. Wood has its own cost if the customer can’t buy it at the real cost, he will simply not harvest it "- advises specialist.

Price will drop, but not for long
Yuri Hromiak, chief deputy of the Lviv forest management administration, says that the bill aims to reduce the price of wood in the domestic market."But everyone failed to achieve the desired result with prohibitions. You have to think about other things, for example, why for so many years in the Lviv region not a single serious furniture has appeared. Today, in order to supply woodworkers with materials, quarterly stock trades take place. Now there is a discussion that Ukrainian foresters can´t supply woodworkers with raw materials. But data shows - in any quarter 100% of wood was sold. Today we have 70%, but earlier it used to be around 30%. What could be an explanation? Customers find cheap raw materials at an illegal market, "- supposes the official.
In addition, Mr. Hromiak underlines that last year wood-export from the region increased by 8.7%, which does not mean that the number will continue to grow. Another argument: there is no oak-export from the region – because Ukrainian woodworkers buy it.
"Gazeta" asked for a comment a local woodworker, who has more than 20 years of experience in this field. Because of fear of controls he only agreed to speak off the record. From his point of view, the bill can be useful in his business field, but only at the beginning. And most importantly, he believes that solving problems of this industry with help of moratorium for export isn’t very logical .
Wood processing lobby?
Roman Volosyanchuk, coordinator of WWF forest projects in Ukraine, told "Gazeta", that embargo of exports of wood is talking point for more than 10 years, but the result is not adjusting of market mechanism, but tug of war. Even before the passing of the law on voting, WWF activists appealed to the Prime Minister to warn against the introduction of the moratorium.

«Today round timber trade contains corruption risks, which are under control of representatives of forest structure that actually sells raw materials. Accordingly, there are distortions for those woodworkers who want to buy wood. Now a lot of experts have many times suggested options in order to establish normal market mechanisms, but this bill - direct ridiculous prohibition, which creates surplus product on the market.Everybody who buys wood wins, but only at the beginning. Due to the fall in prices, overheat the market will take place, followed by a jump in prices, foresters will almost go bankrupt, "- says the expert».

And his colleague BogdanProts, WWF representative in Ukraine, adds that initially the bill was presented in Ukraine as populist.
"There was immediately a question: are you for prohibition of export of round timber or against? We say that both approaches are wrong. First of all we need to think about long-term state forest managementpolicy. There arecorruption schemes that were very convenient for everyone for a long period and it’s not easy break them down.We had a meeting with the parliamentary faction "Samopomich", where this law was discussed, and of the authors of the billOstapYednak also was among the audience. In such case it is not easy to debate, because we see a group of people who lobby their interests. What kind of balance could be in the situation, when a person has 10-15 years of experience in the wood industry and should distance oneself from the process? This is a conflict of interests, "- says BogdanProts.

"Gazeta" asked one of the most active authors of the the bill - OstapYednak, who more than a decade led the woodworking factory, how appropriate it was to become the author of the bill. OstapYednak is convinced that such act has many advantages.
"I think it is a certain positive. Among the authors of the bill and the committee of Industrial Policy was a man who is expert in this area and its problems. This bill doesn’t lobby the interests of one company or group of companies, there is no concentration of businesses in this environment. This is a bill that regulates the entire industry, where thousands of small and large sawmills are working. Therefore, as a conflict of interest you can also define a situation when forestry worker writes a bill that affects the areas of forestry, or when ecologist writesenvironmental laws. Consequently I don’t see here a conflict of interest. I was also surprised by the position of certain nature protection organizations, because it means lobbying of large importers of wood, especially from Europe, that stifle and actually destroy our wood processing industry ", - assured " Gazeta "OstapYednak.

Mariana Verbovska for Lviv's newspaper

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