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Prosecutor Identifies 12,000 Cases of Forestry Violations

Widespread regulatory failure is contributing to a rapid growth in illegal logging, the Prosecutor General's Office said Friday.

Prosecutors identified more than 12,000 legal violations connected with logging and lumber processing in 2012, leading to about 370 criminal cases being opened into logging violations.

The findings were published in a wide-ranging review of law enforcement and regulation in the forestry sphere published on the Prosecutor General's website on Thursday.

"The results show an increase in illegal logging, particularly in regions where the forestry sector has a significant impact on economic development," the report said.

Incidences of illegal logging grew 22 percent in the first six months of 2012 in comparison to the same period last year in the Krasnoyarsk region alone, according to officials. In the same period the financial damage caused by such crimes in the Perm region grew 38 percent to 200 million rubles ($6.3 million).

The report also found numerous irregularities in the leasing of forestland to loggers and a widespread dereliction of duty on the part of forest inspectors, including a failure to report 800 million rubles of damage to Forest Fund land in the Tver region.

"Poor performance by regulatory bodies in this sphere has allowed a large number of violations in forestry activity. In the Primorye, Khabarovsk, Vologda, Sverdlovsk and several other regions there is a prevalence of forestry activity without a forest development plan," the report said.

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