On February 13, 2015 results of an international research “Feasibility Study for Introduction of Electronic Timber Tracking Technologies in Belarus” were presented at the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Belarus. The research was carried out by the Russian consulting company “Forest Certification” together with experts from the Grodno State Forestry Complex and the Belarus State Technological University supported by the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) East Countries Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) II Program funded by European Union.
The research was organized to access the need for additional measures to increase transparency and effectiveness of a timber tracking system in Belarus and whether it is necessary to introduce an electronic system to have each harvested log marked by a special barcode. This research is important in the context of enforcement of the European Union Timber Regulation 995/2010 laying down obligations on operators who place timber or timber products on European markets to introduce due diligence systems to evaluate and minimize illegality risks.
According to the results of the research the effectiveness of the existing timber tracking system in Belarus is high, especially regarding to combating illegal logging. Additional measures to barcode individual logs are not necessary and would not be effective economically. The existing system of timber tracking of the Ministry of Forestry of Belarus is effective enough to be used to prove timber legality.
“The existing timber market in Belarus is transparent for legal entities and for ordinary people. The forest legislation is enforced by 13 thousands forest rangers. All these measures ensure high timber legality and low volumes of illegal logging,” says Dmitry Krasovsky, Vice-Head of the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Forestry of Belarus.
“Belarus forests are certified for compliance to national and international forest management standards and this provides additional assurance in timber harvesting legality. More than a half of all forest of Belarus – 5.2 mln. hectares – is FSC-certified,” says Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Head as well as FLEG II Program Country Coordinator.
In addition proposals for further improvement of the Belarus forest legislation and electronic timber origin tracking system within the Unified Automatic Informational System of the Ministry of Forestry of Belarus were discussed.