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19.05.2010

Lviv region fights illegal leasing of forests

   

People from the Lviv region have begun asserting their right to land more actively. In the regional administration the number of complaints of abuse relating to land use has increased substantially. A special commission has been set up in the region.

Against around 200 complaints last year regarding possible abuse in allocation of land plots, in the first four months of this year 130 dissatisfied citizens have already approached the regional authorities. According to the Deputy Head of the Administration, Myron Yankiv, the greatest number are complaints over the re-classifying of large agricultural land for construction or abuse with forest areas being leased out.

The Head of the Civic Advocacy practice, Leonid Tarasenko, confirms that the public are indeed becoming more active. He stresses that this does not indicate an increase in cases of abuse, but rather the increase in legal and information awareness. Or, he concedes, that the violations have become too outrageous.

Criticism is most often voiced over decisions to lease out forest. This is when village councils hand over forest for permanent or long-term (for 49 years) use, without any consultation with the community. According to the law, village councils act without the framework of their powers yet the decisions are not expedient from the point of view of the community’s interests. Residents fear, and not without cause, that the tenant will restrict their access to the forest, changing its designated purpose. He says that practice has shown that such forests are later re-classified to enable the construction of various cottages and health parks for the rich. Winning it back through the court later is virtually impossible.

If the community immediately applies all levers of influence: the media, complaints to the authorities and to the court, Leonid Tarasenko says that the result will be possible, although the case may be hard and lengthy. There are  also a large number of disputes over land where the ownership is not clearly designated, and there are a lot of such cases. Here too it is the rich who benefit.

From a report at: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5582846,00.html

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