Operationalization of deregulation

Two months have passed since the Romanian Parliament approved Law no. 57/2020 on the sustainable management of Romania’s forests1. Obviously, a law passed by parliament in the context of a letter of delay from the European Commission2 should have been thought out and operationalized to solve the problems identified in that letter.

The law passed with flying colors, statements were made, pictures were taken and electoral points were won. We stopped exporting logs and created two new registers. Why did we create them? It is written in the law:

  • In order to apply the forestry regime and the sustainable management of the forest fund, the National Register of computerized records of forest properties is established;
  • In order to ensure the transparency of the harvesting of timber from the national forest fund, the National Timber Catalog is established.

And since the problem of forests is burning both at the social level and at the level of relations with the European Commission, it would seem logical that from the day after the voting of this law dedicated to the forest, the operationalization of the measures proposed in that law should have been carried out. Have you heard nothing for two months about these new tools for sustainable management of the forest fund? It means working in silence.

However, there is a lot of fuss about the need to quickly modify the Forestry Code, on several very important points of debate. It is desired to compensate the owners for the restrictions imposed and to pay for the ecosystem services provided. The measure is provided for in the current Forestry Code, what is missing is the operationalization of the idea, that is:

  • creation of financial mechanisms, with different alternatives3;
  • the adaptation of the technical rules to allow the quantification of the additional protection services provided.

There is intensive discussion on the modification of the form of sale and the regulation of monopsony situations4, aspects that should not even have been regulated with fixed values ​​in a forestry code. The first provision is under the competence of the regulation on the sale of timber from public forests, and the second is under the competence of the competition council5. In this debate regarding the “compulsory sale of measured wood”, however, two basic ideas are lost – that of concentrating the control effort on the first placement on the market and of implementing some result indicators to verify the way of carrying out silvotechnical works.Operating

We also have the debate on free public access to the forest, where on the one hand we would like to let the world enjoy the social role attributed to certain forests, and on the other hand we would also like to ensure respect for private property and impose restrictions on areas at risk of accidents or in strictly protected natural areas.

In all this confrontation on amendments to the Forestry Code, I have not seen any coherent position that combines the solutions for the sustainable management of Romania’s forests voted by the Romanian Parliament two months ago with the objectives pursued by the amendments proposed to the Forestry Code at this moment.

Because yes, a National Register of computerized records of forest properties could be thought of and operationalized as a support tool for the implementation of compensations for private owners, for the establishment of technical measures applicable in small forest properties, for the identification of additional ecosystem services and direct beneficiaries, for establishing the market placement point in relation to the type of property. And in the context of the intention to legislate public access to the forest, this register can be a tool that allows the owner to declare his agreement or disagreement with public access to the forest he owns.

We can dream well and believe that ANANP will be interconnected to this register and that it will operate (on its bureaucratic and expert effort, not on the owner’s) any additional restrictions that come from the management plans of protected natural areas. And that immediately the request for compensation for the imposed restrictions will be activated in the system. And that civil society will have transparent access to this environmental information. So that instead of a control tool, the property record book should be thought of as an effective resource management tool to take the decisive step towards the operationalization of de-regulation by simplifying the application of dozens of ordinances and procedures.

Or maybe we should be realistic and realize that this registry appeared in a law only because it sounded good and that no one thought about operationalizing it after the votes were taken, press statements were made and won electoral points. And from here will be the silence with which they work on its “operationalization”.

  1. The law was published in M.O. on 18.05.2020.
  2. The letter of delay is dated 12.02.2020.
  3. European funds, budget, payment of services by direct beneficiaries, specific tax, etc.
  4. Monopoly of demand
  5. Because they know what the Herfindahl-Hirschman index means.

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