“Forest Amnesty”: who benefits from the new amendments to the Land code

The Ministry of economic development has prepared and posted on regulation.gov.ru the draft law on “forest Amnesty” — it is intended to put an end to the numerous disputes between the Agency and the owners of forest areas for development. Now the lands of the State forest Fund lands are interspersed with other categories, such as settlements, there is a lot of “border” disputes, the boundaries of parcels in the forest registry (Rosleskhoz) and the State real estate cadastre (Rosreestr) often do not coincide. The bill proposes that in case such inconsistencies to give priority to information of roskadastr and title documents to land plots. “Amnesty” would be that if the physical or legal entity issued a right to the land from the forest Fund prior to 1 January 2007, when entered into force the Forest code, and land not used in accordance with article 25 of the Forest code (timber harvesting, implementation of activities in the sphere of hunting, recreational activity, etc. — a total of 16 species), it will be possible to consolidate the inventory in the transfer of land to another category (for example, settlement lands).

As stated in the explanatory note to the bill, the vast majority of forest lands under Federal ownership are those of forestry, within which there are roads, towns, villages, suburban associations. On the borders of many of these intersections there are disputes about the ownership of these lands. According to the authors of the bill, “only on the territory of Moscow region the number of such intersections is about 200 thousand, and the area covered by such crossroads, is 184 378 ha”.

The bill has been prepared in accordance with the instructions of the government dated February 24, 2016, and the government gave such an order upon application of the Governor of Moscow region Andrei Vorobyov, “affecting the defence of the rights of citizens and legal persons — bona fide holders of immovable property on the lands of forest Fund”, said the press-Secretary of Minister of economic development Elena laskina. “The question is really complicated, and now there is a thorough study and coordination with the State forest register and State cadastre”, — she said.

The press service of the Federal forestry Agency has not responded to the request , the representatives of the Vice-Premier Alexander Khloponin (overseen by the government on environmental management) are unable to comment on the issue at the time of delivery of the material.

Risks of abuse

Perhaps the initiative of the Ministry of economic development will help to resolve long-standing conflict of FFA and owners of the so-called forest land, in any case, the developers and owners of land plots clearly this initiative will be welcomed, said General Director of “Native land” (selling land plots in the Moscow region) Sergey Manenkov. The head of “NDV-Group” Alexander Khrustalev not agree: “the Developers always avoided such sites, and the expression “forest Fund” for them as “incense for the hell”, he explains. “When we were offered to survey the land who were in the forests, we always refused, because there is nothing there to do was impossible — neither to renew nor to legally build,” he says.

Head of forest program, Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF believes that the law will primarily affect lands the most densely populated areas where demand for land has always been the biggest. As a result, the population of large cities may lose very large areas of forest, which will be given under construction, he warns.

When included in the composition of cities bordering forest land may be risks and violations, experts fear. For land there are several types of permitted use — residential, social, business, recreational etc. And to avoid abuse in the inclusion of areas occupied by forests, in the border localities, need to determine the type of permitted use for such sites, says partner of Vegas Lex Igor Chumachenko. “If the parcels are lands of settlements, forests, despite the fact that they will be included in borders of settlements, they should be the limitations on permitted use. They cannot be cut down and used for construction. It is [permitted use] accounted for in the information roskadastr and spatial planning of the settlement”, — said the expert

“This is a benefit primarily for landowners who own forest areas on lease,” said partner Goltsblat BLP Vitaly Mozharovsky. Usually the land was taken on lease for 49 years, has been built on it structures, adds the General Director of group of companies “geo development” Maxim leshchyov. If you legalize the construction that “pardoned” those areas which have been misused, “it will be a loophole to seize the lands of forest Fund”, leshchyov says.