MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) —A bill on the regulation of round-timber turnover is to be referred to the government soon, First Vice-Premier Viktor Zubkov told an all-Russia forum of forestry sector workers here on Thursday.
"A law is being drafted to regulate the turnover of round timber. I already gave assignments on that score to the Federal Agency for Forestry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The bill must be presented to the government (for consideration) soon," he emphasized.
Zubkov's opinion is that the bill will help overcome the problem of illegal cuttngs of forest and the related problem of forest fires. "I can tell you that this is really a big problem: last year alone, according to Interior Ministry data, about 16,000 instances of illegal felling were recorded," he said.
"It seems to us that forest fires in Siberia, in the Far East, and other remote regions, at least part of them, are connected with illegal felling," Zubkov went on to say, explaining that if felling is carried out illegally, the wrong-doers get an urge to conceal the traces and can commit arsons.
Speaking of the efforts being made by the government to counteract forest fires, Zubkov pointed out that over the past year spending on forest fire prevention measures and on the elimination of the aftermath of forest fires had grown almost five-fold. "Expenditure on efforts to prevent fires was previously slightly more than 2,000 million roubles, whereas last year it already grew up to 12,000 million roubles, quite a hefty sum of money," he said.
Among important achievements the First Vice-Premier mentioned the purchase of more than 2,000 units of fire-fighting machinery under the technical re-equipment programme. Last year the government allocated 5,000 million roubles for these purposes. The same sum of money will be assigned in 2012, and "I think we shall continue in the same vein subsequently as well," Zubkov said.
Zubkov said the key tasks for the coming period are to refine the State-and-private (business) partnership in the development of forests and the establishment of infrastructure, to raise the prestige of forestry-related professions, work out a programme to attach young personnel to forestry, as well as to develop the production of modern biofuel resources from low-grade wood.