Parliament adopted last week's vote on amendments to the law on reducing forest compensation, and its adoption is scheduled for next Thursday.
If approved by Members, the new regime would apply to the municipalities of Varena, Visaginas, Druskininkai, Švenčionys, Kazlų Rūda and Rietavas, located in wooded areas. They would pay the state forest land to the state to the extent that afforestation would be free, not a double or a triple tariff, paid for land use change, planning for the development of a city in protected and protected forests and protected areas of state reserves.
Choreographic writers "farmers" Zenonas Streikas and Virginie Vingrienė and liberals Juozas Baublys and Jonas Liesys say that the new arrangement would enable the settlement of municipalities. According to V. Vingrienė, the most urgent arrangements are necessary for Warren and Visaginas.
"The biggest problem for these municipalities is that they do not have free state land outside the forest and that they are building towns. For example, Druskininkai has free land, a rich resort and this increased compensation is not a problem to pay," BNS said.
The government and STT opposed
The government says that the changes will destroy the Lithuanian nature of the forests and natural forests in them.
According to the government, an exceptional case involving the possibility of transforming forest land into residential areas is connected not only with the public, but also with private interests, that is, with the purpose of housing construction.
"Therefore, after the adoption of (…) amendments and the rejection of the differentiation of monetary compensation of the municipality and individuals interested in the formation of residential areas, they would be interested in designing residential areas in the most attractive forest areas", writes the Seimas government.
STT points out that the changes will "create the conditions for corruption" – it is not excluded that private individuals interested in the design of residential areas can influence municipal decisions by creating such territories in the most attractive forest areas – in the forests of more valuable groups.
Nowadays, forest lands can only be changed in other lands in exceptional cases, which are specified in the law. V. Vingriene calculated that such cases are already 12.
Ministry: without exception
Nerijus Kupstaitis, head of the Department of Forest Policy of the Ministry of Nature Protection and Forestry at the Ministry of the Environment, said that from 2013 the conversion of forest land to another land is permitted.
So far, none of the municipalities has used it. In addition, only two were interested.
"In Varena, only Visaginas city municipality raised the question – others are not important", – said N. Kuptaitis.
According to him, the municipality of Varėna was the first and so far the only one that started the conversion of forest land to approximately 8.4 ha of forest areas.
In 2017 the government adopted a resolution on the removal of this area from forests of national importance. This means that consent has already been given for the transfer of forest land to other utilities.
"At that time, the compensation calculated for her in accordance with the methodology approved by the government amounted to some 300 thousand euro. The Municipality did not pay this compensation, but initiated initiatives to reduce amendments to the law or to eliminate compensation in such cases at all , "said N. Kuptaitis.
Deputy Mayor Varene: the return of land will be accelerated
Deputy Mayor Giedrius Samulevičius BNS argued that the change would enable the municipality to complete the land reform and settle the last 23 people – to grant them plots.
According to Vicemer, if the use of forest land changes in accordance with the current procedure, the municipal budget would amount to about 300 thousand euros. According to Mr. Samulevičius, the burden would be too great, and if the new one is three times less.
There is a private business interest, nothing else because the municipality avoids the obligation to pay damages and the parcels are divided into property. These plots are actually sold at market price.
It is foreseen that after the completion of the land reform, the right will be restored and new plots will be available and the local real estate market will be strengthened.
"The city is also very busy, people who have received their property will decide whether to build, store their children or sell them to third parties. Then there will be supplies and areas," – said the mayor.
Head of Forest Policy Department of the Ministry of Environment N. Kupstatis BNS regretted that in Varėnas for the second time the purpose was to "turn town forests into private property" after dismantling them and then changing the purpose of the land.
"There is a private business interest here, nothing else because the municipality avoids paying compensation and parcel parts to the land. These land plots are actually sold at market price," said N. Kuptaitis.
"Urban forests are automatically state-owned forests with a public function and, therefore, can not be privatized after the constitution, but must remain state forests," he added.
He mentioned the case when, about 15 years ago, when strict requirements for conversion of forest land to other agricultural land were not effective, in Varna, when forests were already "sacrificed", plots were set up to restore ownership of land, but half was not built.
Visaginas – residential quarter
According to the director of the Visaginas administration, Sergei Mickiewicz, Visaginas could start a long-term construction of a residential building without any significant compensation to the state for reducing forests and land use change.
"Our city is unique, there is no home, there is forest, there is no place for building, no areas, we need more than 300 thousand euros for inspiration. We have a lot of need for such houses, as investors come and many locals want to build their homes , but they do not have this opportunity, they are in the surrounding districts, "said the head of the administration.
According to S. Mickiewicz, the project of the block of 47 hectares was prepared a few years ago. 18 ha would be designed to create 119 parcels.
"Or at the end of this year, or at the beginning of next year, we could start implementing the project", – promised the representative of the municipality of Visaginas.
On average about 1 thousand hectares of ordinary non-water forest land are converted into another land of about 10 thousand. euro Municipalities pay this money to the state budget, and the state worries that a new forest will be created instead of one destroyed forest area.
Twice or three times more suitable for conversion of other land into protected, recreational, urban and other important forests.