ArmInfo. Measures for illegal logging will be toughened in Armenia. Amendments to the Criminal Code and the package of related laws were approved at the extraordinary meeting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia on July 9 in the first reading
As RA Minister of Environment Eric Grigoryan noted, the project was developed jointly by the Ministry of Nature Protection, Special Investigation Service and Investigation Committee. It is aimed at reducing the level of illegal logging and toughening measures of responsibility. The current articles of the Criminal Code, according to the minister, do not cover all the existing risks, which appear not only in the process of illegal logging in order to generate personal income, but also transportation and sale. Given the available data and the current situation, an attempt is made to completely cover all the gaps in the country's legislation, and to bring the responsibility measures in line with the policy of the Ministry of Nature Protection for the prevention of illegal logging. Currently, Eric Grigoryan continued, over 50% of all criminal cases related to offenses in the field of ecology relate to illegal logging of forests.
It is envisaged, in particular, to double the rate of penalties in the first case of cutting, and if the offense is repeated during the year, to bring violators to criminal responsibility. It is also planned to sharply increase the penalty rate for the killing of the Caucasian leopard, which will be 100 million drams instead of the current rate of 3 million drams. The minister said that currently between 8 and 12 individuals of the Caucasian leopard are recorded, the year of which is celebrated in Armenia in 2019. Earlier, the minister reported that implementation of a program of reforms related to the forest resources of the country is being discussed in Armenia. For a long time, according to him, forestry in the country has been adversely affected, and that there are areas where the forest has degraded in recent years. According to him, the goals of this program are very large and ambitious. "The time has come for the forests to return what they gave to Armenia and the whole world. The time has come for our actions not to be linear and affect the sphere of legislative and legal changes, as well as the psychology of the people," the minister noted.
Eric Grigoryan said that the ministry is holding a wide range of discussions around forest reforms, which is attended by representatives of academia and representatives of international organizations. He also noted the importance of the participation of the Diaspora in this matter. He said that opportunities will be created so that the citizens of Armenia, living both in the country and abroad, have the opportunity to contribute to the work on the protection of forests. The program budget is 16 million euros. The program, implemented by the Ministry of Ecology of Armenia in cooperation with the UNDP and the German Embassy, has two goals: to create a stable working environment, including monitoring systems that facilitate management planning, and also to carry out demonstration works. As part of the program, it is planned to introduce modern IT technologies, drone technologies, retraining of personnel and other tasks into the forestry sector.
According to the Investigation Committee, over the past year, 300 criminal cases were initiated in connection with which 100 persons were charged. In 2015, 18 similar criminal cases were initiated, and in 2016 - only 6.