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Tens of Thousands Sign Petition Calling For Amendment To Forestry Law

The Friends of the Earth environmental movement yesterday presented representatives of the Agriculture Ministry with a petition for a change to the forestry law signed by 85,733 people, demanding the preservation of the binding share of deciduous trees and firs among newly planted trees. 

The appeal was received by Patrik Mlynar, head of the ministry’s forest management section. He said that the ministry has similar goals to the environmentalists, but different ideas on how to achieve them. The ministry wants to regulate less and motivate more, Mlynar said.

The amendment to the forestry law, if passed, will simplify the obligations of forest owners and at the same time respond to changes in forest ownership and climate change, Agriculture Minister Marek Vyborny (KDU-CSL) said earlier.

However, according to Friends of the Earth, the bill does not respond to the current needs of forests, nor does it move towards modern forestry. In particular, the environmentalists disagree with the abolition of the compulsory share of deciduous trees and firs in forest planting, which legalise and encourage the planting of risky monocultures.

The movement also criticises the draft amendment for failing to set limits on the retention of logging residues and dead wood in forests, which it argues are indispensable for biodiversity, soil regeneration and carbon storage.

However, the ministry does not want such a regulation in the amendment. “A number of experts have said that it is not possible to clearly define an obligation for the owner to leave a minimum share of dead wood in the forest,” Mlynar told CTK. “It is much better and more effective to motivate this by means of subsidies.” 

On the other hand, Friends of the Earth appreciate the extension of the deadline for afforestation, and also agree that the amendment must be approved together with the bill on hunting. “Overpopulated wild animals will damage most of the planted deciduous trees and firs, so our forests have no chance in restoration if the hunting amendment is not passed,” said Friends of the Earth’s expert Jaromir Blaha.

The ministry is working on an amendment to the hunting law and plans to submit it to the government within weeks. Mlynar expects both laws to be adopted during this parliamentary term, which ends in the autumn of 2025.

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