Corruption fuels illegal logging, destroying Ukraine’s forestland
Vinnytsia forest industry, told the Kyiv Post he was shot at after exposing a scheme under which a local state forestry enterprise was selling off its forests by marking down the exports as firewood.
Much of the logging is concentrated in the historic region of Bukovyna, where the forests had until recently remained almost untouched. Activists with the Patriotic Community of Bukovyna now say that up to 60 percent of Bukovyna’s forests have been destroyed in the past few years.
In the center of the area, among the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, sits the State Forestry Enterprise of Berehomet.
Mykola Petichenko, an activist with the Patriotic Community of Bukovyna who has the dangerous hobby of driving around the Chernivtsi countryside, chasing and exposing smugglers, said that Berehomet is a regional center for illegally cut wood. The Berehomet state enterprise is located next to a railway line that leads to Romania. Springtime for Schweighofer Ukrainian law stipulates that loggers must mark the quality of the wood at the place at which it was cut down, so as to prevent fraud. But the Berehomet log supply was without any markings.
According to contract information obtained by the Kyiv Post, Berehomet concluded a contract with Schweighofer that saw the state-owned enterprise sell roughly $700,000 in lumber in 2015.
When presented with the number, Schweighofer said that it had not received any logs from Berehomet since the moratorium was in place. While the Kyiv Post was at Berehomet, a postal worker walked in saying he was carrying mail from Schweighofer.
“If they receive a certificate confirming the origin of the goods, (customs) have no right not to block the export,” said Andrew Zablotskyi, a partner at Sayenko Kharenko who focuses on customs law.
Petichenko, along with Valeriy Airiniy, another Bukovyna