Thursday , June 17 2021

Sejm tends to facilitate the development of several cities at the expense of forests

Parliament passed last week's vote on Amendments to the Law on Reducing Forestry Reduction, and its adoption is scheduled for next Thursday.

If MPs approve of them, the new regime will apply to the municipalities of Varėna, Visaginas, Druskininkai, Švenčionys, Kazlų Rūda and Rietavas located in the forest area. They will pay state forest land to the state to the point that reforestation will be free of charge, not the double or triple rate paid to change land use, plan the development of cities in protected forests and protected forests and protected areas from state reserves.

Correction of "farmer writers" Zenonas Streikas and Virginija Vingrienė and liberals Juozas Baublys and Jonas Liesys said that the new order would allow the city to save. According to V.Vinisienė, the most recent orders are needed for Warren and Visaginas.

"The biggest problem for these cities is that they do not have free state land outside the forest and the construction of disadvantaged cities. For example, Druskininkai has free open land, is a rich resort and compensation is increasing it is not a problem to pay , "said BNS.

Government and STT oppose

The government said that the amendment would destroy Lithuania's nature of forests and natural forests in it.

According to the Government, extraordinary cases involving the possibility of converting forest land into residential areas are not only related to the public but also to personal interests, namely the purpose of building housing.

"Therefore, after adopting (…) amendments and refusing to distinguish monetary compensation, cities, as well as individuals who are interested in forming residential areas, would be interested in forming residential areas in the most attractive forest areas," the Government wrote to Seimas.

STT observes that the amendments "will create conditions for corruption" – it is not excluded that private individuals interested in forming residential areas might try to influence city decisions so that the area is formed in the most attractive forest areas – in more valuable group forests .

Now forest land can be converted into other land only in extraordinary cases, which are specified in the law. V.Vingriene has calculated that such cases have been 12.

Service: there are no exceptions

Nerijus Kupstaitis, head of the Forest Policy Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Ministry of Environment, said that the exception when converting forest land to other land was permitted from 2013.

So far, none of the municipalities have used it. In addition, only two were interested.

"In Varna, only the City of Visaginas City has raised the issue – others are irrelevant", – said N.Kupstaitis.

According to him, Varėna district was the first and until now the only one that began the conversion of forest land was around 8.4 ha of forest area.

In 2017, the Government adopted a resolution regarding the abolition of the area from the state's forest interests. This means that an agreement has been given to transfer forest land to other utilities.

"At that time, compensation calculated for him according to the methodology agreed to by the government amounted to around 300 thousand. The euro Municipality did not pay this compensation, but initiatives were initiated to reduce the amendment of the law or to eliminate all compensation in such cases," said Kupstaitis.

Deputy Mayor Varena: the return of land will be faster

Deputy Mayor Giedrius Samulevičius BNS believes that the amendment will allow the city government to complete land reform and complete the last 23 people – to allocate land for them.

According to Vicemero, if forest land use changes according to current procedures, the city budget will range around 300 thousand. According to G. Samulevicius, it would be too much burden, and if the new three times less.

He predicts that after the completion of land reform, justice will be restored and new packages will be available, and trade will increase the local real estate market.

"The city is also very busy, people who have received their property will decide whether to build themselves, look after their children, or sell them to third parties. Then there will be supplies and regions," – said the mayor.

The head of the Forestry Ministry's Forestry Policy Division, N.Kupstaitis, BNS, regretted that in Varėnas the goal for the second time was to "transform urban forests into private property" after their transfer, and then change the destination from the land.

"There are personal business interests here, nothing else, because the city government avoids compensation payments and divides the package into property. The land is actually sold at market prices," N.Kupstaitis said.

"Urban forests are automatically state-owned forests with public functions and therefore, according to the Constitution, they cannot be privatized, they must remain state forests," he added.

He mentioned this case when about 15 years ago, when the strict requirements for the conversion of forest land to other agricultural land were ineffective, in Varna so forests were "sacrificed" – packages were formed to restore ownership rights to land, but not half of them were built.

Visaginas – settlement

According to Sergey Mickiewicz, Director of the Administration of the Regional Municipality of Visaginas, the construction of a long-standing residential building was planned to begin at the Visaginas without any significant compensation for the state for deforestation and land use change.

"Our city is unique, that there is no home, there are forests everywhere, there is no place to build, there is no area, and for inspiration we need more than 300 thousand euros. We have enormous needs for homes like that, because investors come and many brides want to build their own homes, but don't have this opportunity, they are in the surrounding districts, "said the head of administration.

According to S. Mickiewicz, the 47 hectare block project was prepared several years ago. 18 hectares will be designed to form 119 plots.

"Or already at the end of this year, or at the beginning of next year, we can start implementing the project", – promised representatives of the municipality of Visaginas.

On average, around one thousand hectares of ordinary non-aquatic forest land is converted into other land for around 10 thousand. euro City pays this money to the state budget, and the state, in turn, notices that instead of a single forest area being destroyed, new forests will be established elsewhere.

Two or three times more suitable for converting other land into protected, recreational, urban and other important forests.

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