NEWS

What the new law allows and forbids

The new law proposed by the Agriculture Ministry is expected to solve problems that have been piling up for years. It must also respond to a range of demands, so as not to disappoint potential supporters of the government. The bill supplies a detailed description of forest areas, which may be cited by those wishing to have the classification of their property changed from forest or woodland. This gives cause for hope to people who own areas which are in dispute. Forest cooperatives that own scrubland may exchange it for other areas, probably land thickly covered with shrubs, on which they will be able to build. The law forbids any change to the classification of forests or adjacent scrubland (namely, land of which more than 70 percent is covered by scrub). The draft bill allows «in exceptional circumstances» for «the establishment of climbing and winter sports installations, kiosks or hostels to serve those venues, school buildings, botanical gardens, cemeteries, hospitals and health centers, as well as mining and quarrying.» For any interventions that are made to forests or scrubland, even those that do not entail a change of use, the new law requires that a sum decided by the Agriculture Ministry must be paid to the State. In cases where either the public interest or the promotion of the national economy necessitate some intervention in a forest, the beneficiaries must create an equivalent forest in a denuded area indicated by the forest legislation. But this clause seems to assume that forests could be manufactured or transferred at will. It overlooks the fact that this involves destroying one forest and taking plants to another area, where they will need years to mature into a forest. Forestry and legal experts argue the new bill not only fails to solve existing problems but also creates new ones, and that it will never get past the Council of State.