Hundreds of people report deforestation in various parts of the country

10 mins

На русском языке: Сотни людей сообщают о вырубке лесов в различных районах страны
На беларускай мове: Сотні людзей паведамляюць пра вырубку лясоў у розных раёнах краіны

The editors of get the information about large-scale deforestation near Svetlogorsk, Mozyr, Novopolotsk, Lyahovichi, Logoisk, Uzda and in many other areas. 

Since 2018, Belarus has a ban on the export of roundwood from the country. To obtain an export permit, you need the personal signature of Alexander Lukashenko, and it seems that the largest exporter of timber in Belarus — Bellesexport received it. You can see it by yourself.

Roundwood export over the past 5 years:

  • 2016  — € 91,5 million
  • 2017  — € 82,3 million.
  • 2018  — € 3 million.
  • 2019  — € 6,8 million.
  • 10 months of 2020 — $ 18,6 million.
Compared to 2018, the export of roundwood increased 15 times. Also, it isn't noted how much timber was exported to China, because the tenders for freight forwarding services for the export of 62.8 thousand cubic meters of lumber to this country took place in the amount of $ 4.5 million. At the end of 2020, forestry enterprises fulfilled the norm of 2021 for roundwood production. This rate of production caused an increase in the price of roundwood within the country by 2 times.

Hundreds of people report deforestation in various parts of the country

We are also reported that some companies export roundwood as «sharpened stakes». But it seems that someone has quietly lifted the ban on the export of timber.

The scale of deforestation over the past year is clearly visible on the Global Forest Watch website, they can also be viewed on the Belarusian startup OneSoil: choose an area and if you see brown spots on the map, then there have been deforestations.

Hundreds of people report deforestation in various parts of the country

Deforestation in Belarus is held according to the so-called forest management, which takes place every 10 years. In 2017, a new forest code was adopted, which increased the area of forests that can be cut down by 20%.

Perhaps we can see the results of the new forest code of 2017, which destroys forests.

On what basis is deforestation in protected nature reserve held?

Hundreds of people report deforestation in various parts of the country

In early January, we already told that deforestation is also taking place in national parks under the management of the PDA, but we were informed that deforestation is also taking place in other reserves:

Back in that year, a lot was cut down in the Kaykovsky reserve, but mostly it is in the depths of the forest, probably, so that it is not visible from the road.
Slonim Biological Reserve. The forest is cut down in pieces in the center. Of course, you can't see it from the road, but going deeper into the forest, the picture is very sad.
Nalibokskaya Pushcha. Inside, the whole forest is scattered, timber trucks scurry back and forth, forest roads and paths are broken. Bark beetle? You know where it is.

Does it mean that the authorities «legalized» deforestation and gave the opportunity to its closest for cutting forests wherever they want? And how does the export scheme work?

A Chinese counterparty buys timber and/or boards from a Belarusian company. All the necessary documents are made and exported, mainly by rail and sea.

In the case of the sea, the container ship arrives for loading, everything is immersed in the container and it leaves for Klaipeda. There the container is put to the port, then to the ship.

In the case of a railway, directly to China, the carrier drives the container by rail or container ship for loading. The cargo is brought to the railway station (for example, Kolyadichi), where a train of 41-53 containers is formed and sent to China.

I worked in sea transportation. I saw the railway platforms littered with roundwood in Lithuania. I asked where it was from, because there is no forest in Lithuania. They answered that it was Belarusian. I was surprised, because the export of roundwood is prohibited. Then the Lithuanians themselves sent me our Belarusian law, which spells out the companies that are allowed to export roundwood. Lumber is a gold mine. Dozens, maybe hundreds of containers a month go to China.

According to another source familiar with the Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange (BUCE), the following scheme may operate there. All sellers and buyers know each other and call during the auction, although everything must be anonymous. Sellers exhibit a lot with wood of poor quality (thin trunks), respectively, the buyer officially pays a small amount. But he is loaded with a wagon of business wood (thick trunks), only from above they are covered with wood of poor quality.

It is important to note that lumber for export cannot be sold directly: only through BUCE or through a special exporter, which is Bellesexport. This is actively used by some entrepreneurs from the Baltic states.

A source familiar with the situation said on condition of anonymity some details: «Many people from the Baltic states are involved in this business. The same owners open companies in Belarus and at home. The scheme is as follows: in Belarus, roundwood is bought cheaply or sawn, then on its own plots it is dissolved on a bar and / or boards, exhibited at BUCE. Further, Estonians or Latvians buy lumber from themselves at BUCE, take them to the Baltic countries. There they either overload, or just change the documents, write a new CMR and sell to the Netherlands, Spain, etc. It happens that they do some kind of processing at home: dry or plan, but most often it is just the same forest. For example, a couple of such large organizations: Vitebsk sawmill, a large enterprise in Polotsk, the village of Klyastitsa in the Rossony district and a couple in the Borisov district».

Hundreds of people report deforestation in various parts of the country

By the way, Interforest, one of the oldest woodworking companies , belongs to businessman Nikolay Vorobey, associated with Alexander Lukashenko. The oil and gas pipeline in Ukraine, owned by Vorobey, was nationalized. Recently, according to local residents, he purchased an old sawmill at the entrance to Rossony.

In addition, it is reported that throughout the country there is an active design and construction of pellet plants and the installation of lines for the production of fuel pellets: Klichev, Senno, Postavy, Orsha district, Baranovichi district, Pruzhany district. Perhaps they are massively built because not everyone can get permission to export roundwood.

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