Prime Minister: Russian timber industry is on brink of crisis

Russia's prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov believes that the country's timber industry "is on the brink of a crisis", and its contribution to the economic development is "low", he said on Tuesday when opening a government session devoted to the problems of the timber sector.

Russia has one fourth of the world's forest resources, he recalled, yet its share on the timber market is only 3 per cent. Today only 15 per cent of possible amounts of forest is felled in Russia, Kasyanov said. A lot of forests in the country are difficult to access, he admitted, yet nothing is done to fell forest "a bit farther from cities and towns".

Last year, according to Kasyanov, timber and paper import to Russia grew 25 per cent, today 35 per cent of domestic demand is satisfied by import.

"Two things are necessary" for putting the industry right, he believes, "the order in state regulations and investments". The prime minister deems it necessary to implement a practice when a private company that fells forest would also be responsible for its reproduction. As to investments, stability and predictability are the most important issues in this respect, he said. The Russian timber industry "has everything to achieve a growth by 5 or even 8 per cent without emergency measures," Kasyanov concluded.

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