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 Wednesday, July 10 2019 11:39
Alexandr Avanesov

Minister: Armenian government will be consistent in its fight against  illegal deforestation

Minister: Armenian government will be consistent in its fight against  illegal deforestation

ArmInfo. The Armenian government will be consistent in its fight against illegal  deforestation, Minister of the Nature Protection Erik Grigoryan said  on July 10, introducing the draft amendments in the Criminal Code and  in a package of related laws aimed at toughening measures for illegal  deforestation. It should be noted that the country's parliament  agreed with the legislative initiative of the government, having  adopted the package in the second and final reading.  

The Minister urged the population and business from today to think about the use  of alternative energy sources. "If someone thinks that the government  will give up his intentions in a year, then he is mistaken in this.  Our forest protection policy is designed for a long period of time. I  urge the population and business to abandon the use of firewood for  heating, and more actively begin to use alternative and renewable  energy sources ", Minister said, adding that new proposals from the  MPs were not received in the second reading.  

A day earlier, presenting the document in the first reading, Erik Grigoryan noted  that the draft was developed jointly by the Ministry of Nature  Protection, the Special Investigation Service and the Investigative  Committee. It is aimed at reducing the level of illegal deforestation  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  forest cutting in order to generate personal income, but also  transportation and sale. Taking into account 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  to prevent illegal deforestation.  

Currently, Erik Grigoryan continued, over 50% of all criminal cases related to offenses in the  field of ecology relate to illegal cutting 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 reported that currently  8-12 individuals of the Caucasian leopard are recorded, the year of  which is celebrated in Armenia in 2019.  

The minister also reported that implementation of a program of reforms related to the country's  forest resources is being discussed in Armenia. For a long time,  according to him, forestry in the country has been adversely  affected, and 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. Erik Grigoryan said that the ministry is holding a wide range  of discussions around forest reforms, which is attended by  representatives of academy 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 Nature Protection 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.  To recall,  according to the Investigative Committee, over the last 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. 

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