From January 1, 2020, Russia will ban the export of coniferous commercial timber!

From January 1, 2020, Russia will ban the export of coniferous commercial timber!

The revised contents of the forest law of the Russian Federation are as follows:

As of December 31, 2030, coniferous forest cutting can only be used for processing in the Russian Federation or for the use of unprocessed wood (camphor pine, spruce, fir, cedar and larch) in the Russian Federation

The bill aims to temporarily ban the export of coniferous commercial timber, including camphor pine, spruce, fir, cedar and larch.

Commercial wood mainly refers to the wood suitable for industrial processing and log form in terms of quality and size, including: log (transverse segmentation), broken wood (log segmentation), stump fat wood and process wood chips. Firewood and timber not suitable for industrial processing are excluded.

The main purpose of the bill is to solve three problems in the utilization of forest resources in Russia at present:

First of all, there are serious problems in the rational use of forests in Russia at present. The annual deforestation is 1.5 times of the recovery.

Secondly, the problem of illegal logging needs to be solved thoroughly. According to the Russian Ministry of nature, illegal deforestation has increased by 70 per cent in the past five years. In Amur state, more than half of the national forest fund is legally used for logging, according to the official data of the nature protection procuratorate. The scale of “shadow business” is still not small. Only in the coastal areas, 1.5 million cubic meters of timber are illegally harvested every year.

Thirdly, the pursuit of export, that is, the pursuit of fast money, is not conducive to the deep processing of wood and export of sawn timber. At present, the export of plank is the priority of the export structure of Russian timber enterprises. In order to consolidate what has been achieved, more legal mechanisms need to be established to promote the development of wood processing in the Russian Federation and to increase the export of sawn timber and other products by timber enterprises.

Therefore, under the background of challenges in environmental protection, forest resource protection and wood processing industry development, it is timely to ban the export of commercial coniferous timber. Legislators choose the most reasonable and feasible way to comprehensively solve the problems in this field, while taking into account the national, social and commercial interests, so it is necessary to impose legal restrictions on the sale of logging and forest products.

The main difference between the bill and previous similar initiatives is that it prohibits not only the export of logs, but also all commercial timber. This is done in order to avoid the export of logs for the lowest level of processing (e.g. log split in two).

It must be noted that the act does not explicitly prohibit the export of coniferous commercial timber, as the Russian Federation has directly adopted international customs law since the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Community and the customs union. According to the Treaty of Eurasian Economic Union, the prohibition of import and export of goods is a non-tariff regulation measure, and the Russian Federation can only implement it unilaterally in the situations and procedures stipulated in the international treaties and Customs Union Agency decrees that form the legal contract basis of the customs union. The ban can only be enforced in accordance with the subject matter and established procedures set out in the above-mentioned treaty and for a period not exceeding six months. Such a short-term ban does not guarantee the development of reforestation and wood processing industries.

In view of the above, it is suggested that in the forest law, coniferous trees can only be harvested for processing in the Russian Federation or for the use of unprocessed wood (Pinus sylvestris, spruce, fir, cedar and larch) in the Russian Federation. This restriction, which is 10 years from 2020, ensures the achievement of the bill’s objectives: to protect forests and forest resources (to prevent illegal logging and promote forest restoration), to develop the wood processing industry, to encourage entrepreneurs to reorient their business and sell more expensive wood products. These measures, in turn, will create new jobs in logging and processing areas, increase the wages of forestry workers, expand the amount of tax payable, and thus increase fiscal revenues at all levels.

In addition, in the medium term, a total ban on the export of commercial coniferous timber will bring about a substantial development in the infrastructure of timber harvesting and processing areas

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