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    WILL FORESTS BE IN PRIVATE PROPERTY?

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    MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade will insist on preserving the private-property norm in the draft Forest Code, deputy minister Mukhamed Tsikanov told the press conference on Thursday.

    He recalled that the draft code "toughly, clearly and directly set the norms of forest management and passing forest in private property". Forest can be passed in private property at auctions only following 15 years of conscientious lease, he said. The owner shall carry out forest-rehabilitation work on the block he buys. In addition, he may not limit access for people to his forest block.

    The draft Forest Code also intends initiating the procedure of withdrawal of forest in case the terms of the contract and ecological requirements have been violated, Tsikanov said.

    The deputy minister stressed that the passing of forest in private property is needed because of "forest degradation" (now only between 25 and 30 percent of the forest stock corresponds to the environmental norms owing to the mismanagement of the forest stock).

    "It is impossible to ensure normal existence of forest, forest management if the state is the proprietor", Tsikanov is sure.

    In his opinion, the passing of forest in private property will stimulate lumbering, which will increase the attraction of the forest stock. What's more, he believes, private property of forest is the necessary condition for increasing the capitalisation of Russian lumbering companies.

    Tsikanov also recalled that the draft Forest Code intends the possibility of passing forest as property to foreigners except the border territories and the special zones, to be fixed by presidential decrees. "Otherwise, I see no obstacles for passing the forest stock as property to foreigners", Tsikanov said.

    In a week the Economic Development and Trade Ministry is going to submit an updated version of the Forest Code for consideration by the government.

    (Some Russian senators and Sergei Mironov, chairman of the Federation Council /the upper chamber of parliament/, are against adopting the draft in its present form).

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