The working group against illegal timber trade under Russian Government discussed the export of roundwood and sawn wood, the monitoring of timber transportation and the legality of forest lease contracts.
The problem related to sawn wood exports was raised. In order to avoid export duties, some companies have started to export roughly sawn wood (export code 4407) instead of roundwood, and now the aim is to eliminate the phenomenon. Customs proposes as one alternative to set a temporary export quota for sawn wood and to harmonize export duties on roundwood and sawn wood. The Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Gordeyev, leading the working group, instructed the relevant authorities to prepare a proposal for the imposition of export duties on low-value sawn timber (4407, not planed, not sanded). Eight percent of the currently exported sawn timber is further processed.
The Russian Federal Forestry Agency reports that it has revised 1,800 forest lease contracts this year, of which over a thousand with complaints. The verification covered the largest logging companies (allowable cut > 100,000 m³/year) without own wood processing. The checking covered not only the contracts themselves, but also illegal logging, the quality of implementation of forest protection and regeneration, and participation in forest sector priority investments. The majority of contract violations (40%) were related to the forest management plan including neglecting forest protection and regeneration measures specified therein. 38% of the violations involved contractual procedures, for example changes affecting contract terms such as felling volumes and forest use fees, without the required court decision. Other infringements (20%) mainly concerned deficiencies in entering information to the timber trade monitoring system LesEGAIS. One percent of the infringements concerned illegal logging or failure to comply with the terms of investment projects.
Most of the above mentioned deficiencies can be resolved through administrative procedures, but in some cases contracts have to be terminated. In Russia, a total of 8,000 forest lease contracts have been signed for wood harvesting with 5,000 forest leasers. Allowable cut in the leased forests is 250 million cubic meters. To date, approximately 30 forest lease contracts have been terminated through the courts. The verification process is not only aimed at producing a list of breaches of contract, but also seeks to identify the needs for reform of forest regulation. The review will continue in 2020.
The planned satellite positioning system of timber trucks and forest machines requires the approval of the GOST standard and changes to the technical regulations of the Customs Union, which were proposed to be accelerated.