Moscow — Over two million cubic metres of trees were illegally cut down in Russian forests in the first half of this year, deputy head of the Federal Forestry Service Dmitriy Odintsov said. He told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday that only 800,000 cubic metres of trees were illegally felled during the whole of last year.
Odintsov blamed this on the reorganization of the forestry service, or Rosleskhoz, and lax control over forests.
“Interestingly, some regions have timber procurement offices similar to infamous scrap non-ferrous metal procurement offices. These offices are controlled by organized criminal groups engaged in illegal timber exports”, he said.
Odintsov noted that in some regions authorities have leased state-owned forests to commercial structures for logging operations. “Such decisions made by local authorities run counter to Russian legislation, primarily to the Forestry Code. The damage from such actions by local authorities has already reached several dozen million roubles”, he said.