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The Ministry must ensure better follow-up of forest owners

Forestry developments in the last decade have not been in line with the Storting’s (Norwegian Parliament’s) objective of increased logging within a sustainable framework. For 20 per cent of the forest area, the owner of the forest has not done enough to make sure new forest will grow up to replace the felled trees. - To ensure sustainable management, the Ministry must ensure forest owners are followed up better, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 9/27/2012 12:00 PM

Document 3: 17 (2011–2012) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of sustainable management of Norwegian forest resources was presented to the Storting on 27 September 2012.

The Forestry Act’s requirement for satisfactory regeneration after logging is not being fully complied with. Controls show that owners of about 20 per cent of the forest areas have not complied with their duty to regenerate the forest. The amount of reforestation measures have been falling over the last 20 years, and from 2002 to 2011 the annual planted area has shown a downward trend in most forest regions.

- The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has implemented several measures since 2010 to ensure better follow-up of the regeneration duty, but these measures need to be continued and strengthened. Deficient regeneration will lead to a lower quality and quantity of timber production for industrial use. It also means that we are not making the most of our forests’ ability to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.

The audit conducted by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) shows that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, when following up environmental requirements in laws and regulations, assumes that the industry’s system for self-control functions satisfactorily. Few municipalities check environmental aspects of logging, and sanctions are rarely used. However, several examples of logging in contravention of the current environmental requirements have been uncovered recently. The forestry authorities have not obtained systematic information on violations of environmental requirements through the industry’s internal control system.

The audit shows that logging over the last ten years has been lower than in the previous decade, even though the volume of mature forest is on the increase. For the Storting’s objective of increased logging to be realised, the Ministry must improve access to the forest resources, not least through improved infrastructure, while also ensuring good compliance with the environmental requirements.

The audit conducted by the OAG shows that many forest owners know too little about the key economic and legal instruments in forestry, and also that information on environmental values in forestry is not sufficiently accessible and user-friendly.

- The Ministry must make sure forest owners know much more about the existing instruments and the rights and duties that follow from this. It is also important to improve both the industry’s and the authorities’ access to environmental information, so that a sustainable forestry management can be achieved, says Kosmo.

The Minister points out that the Ministry has implemented measures recently to follow up many of the challenges identified in the report.

Public institutions can order the document from the Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no. Others can order it from Fagbokforlaget AS, tel. (+47) 55 38 66 00, offpub@fagbokforlaget.no.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:11 (2011-2012), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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