FLEG II facilitates the dialogue between communal forestry enterprises and local authorities
Between May and July 2016, a series of trainings was held in the Ukrainian districts of Mykolaiv (Lviv region), Monastyryska (Ternopil region), and Malyn (Zhytomyr region) by the ENPI East Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Program (FLEG II) on the crucial issue of communal forest management.
In the Soviet times, most forests were administrated by centrally-ruled state forest enterprises. However, the Soviet system also identified some forests of local importance, which were administrated by agricultural cooperatives and state farms, called kolkhoz and sovkhoz. Usually, those forests were located close to settlements and all products and profits obtained from them belonged to the farms.
In Ukraine, after the fall of the Soviet Union, entities called communal forest enterprises were created to manage the forests located in the former soviet kolkhoz and sovkhoz areas. However, part of the former Soviet forests of local importance fell under the administration of state forest enterprises or of local councils. In some cases, these forests were even left without any management.
This varied system of forest management lacks clarity and generates confusion among the administrators. In addition, local authorities do not always have the necessary knowledge to face this complicated system.
“Over the years, we have observed how public officials often clash with the enterprises over the management of the forests located in their territories, sometimes even by accusing them of carrying out unauthorized logging activities” said Roman Volosyanchuk, FLEG Country Program Coordinator for IUCN in Ukraine, “The lack of knowledge on the legislation and the legal loopholes make difficult to define the respective responsibilities of the stakeholders and represent real obstacles to effective governance. Therefore, we felt the urgency to address this long-standing problem by organizing specific trainings”.
The trainings were attended by representatives of local authorities and aimed to attain two major goals. In the first place, they were intended to increase the level of awareness on the legislation. In addition, the participants had the opportunity to improve their knowledge and practical skills on the mechanisms of participation in the forest management.
During the seminars, the FLEG experts Alla Oborska and Andriy Zhyla illustrated the legislative acts which regulate the relations between the different stakeholders of the sector and explained how to enforce the local communities’ rights on forest management.
“The participants turned out to be mostly interested in the practical strategies to implement the legislation effectively” said Ms. Oborska, “We focused especially on how to solve the conflicts arising between the communities and the enterprises through very practical examples”.
As a result of this series of trainings, the FLEG team is now preparing an information guidebook which will be made available to the Ukrainian local authorities in the fall of 2016.
“The guidebook will give a historical overview of the entity of communal forests and the laws which regulate them” said Mr. Zhyla, “This tool will also go into the details of relevant matters such as the control over logging activities and the taxation of communal forestry enterprises. We also enriched the guidebook with the outputs produced by the participants during the seminars. The aim is to facilitate the understanding of this complicated topic to the public authorities”.
“The legislation on communal forests has loopholes and public officials are not always prepared to cope with the tensions which often arise with the forestry enterprises” said Volodymyr Danyluk, Head of the Council of Monastyryska, “I am confident that this guidebook will be a valid support to our work and will make the relations with our partners smoother”.