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Changes in legislation

The deteriorating condition of forests due to drought, bark beetle calamities and overpopulated game was to be resolved through changes in the forest law.

During the discussion of the changes in the autumn of 2019, a dispute arose mainly about the role of the state in the regulation of overpopulated game. The proposal of a part of the deputies of government and opposition parties provided that the hunting authorities would determine the plan of hunting management in hunting grounds instead of their owners and hunters. The reason is the effort to reduce the number of overpopulated ungulates.

The Minister of Agriculture supported this, stating that the changes are based on the previous year’s government proposal. For were academics and ecologists. They were annoyed that the deputies did not approve the extension of the deadlines for reforestation (2 years after harvesting) or did not limit the intentional clear-cutting (mostly 1 ha). Overpopulated game is currently the main barrier to the restoration of damaged forests.

The proposal was rejected by the Czech-Moravian Hunting Unit or the Association of Owners of Municipal and Private Forests of the Czech Republic. According to critics of the amendments, including the chairman of the Czech-Moravian Hunting Union, the changes are ill-considered, bureaucratic and limit the rights of hunting owners and hunters.

As a result, this part was adopted with a deferred validity, during which the Ministry of Agriculture drafted a completely new version of the Hunting Act in a record short time, which will be discussed in parliament in autumn 2020.

It was approved that the measures supporting the fight against bark beetles will be able to be newly determined by the Ministry of Agriculture, regional authorities and municipalities with extended powers. The measures take effect immediately. There are also clear rules for financial contributions to non-state forest owners to address the impacts of the bark beetle calamity.

The Ministry can now grant exemptions for the use of seedlings in the event of a lack of suitable growing material. The forest owner will be able to apply for them. The ministry, like regional and municipal authorities, has the option of banning people from entering forests for their safety. The ban can be valid for up to three months and can be extended.

The Chamber of Deputies inserted into the law a ban on the privatization of state forests, except for the exchange of forests or sale in the public interest. MEPs also approved a proposal to limit the removal of logging residues where forests do not have enough nutrients.

Usual production of up to 20 million cubic meters has doubled in recent years and forecasts are getting worse. Almost half of the wood in the raw state was exported for processing abroad. The situation was greatly complicated by quarantine due to covid-19. But the crisis is a great chance for the necessary changes.