Has access to ecologically important information of forest users impoved ? Government communal forestries
Лісові ініціативи і cуспільство
In 2022, ForestCom continues to monitor the activities of forestry utilities to prevent illegal logging and notes that compared to 1.12.2021, a number of enterprises have reduced or stopped socially important information about their activities. Of course, this may be caused by the wartime, which changed the usual life. However, in most cases, especially in the western and central regions, the situation requires the normalization of public relations.
According to the results of the monitoring of public coverage of environmentally sensitive information, the results as of June 2022 were as follows:
• Government forestry enterprises such as «Galsillis» and «Sumyoblagrolis» continue to cover their activities publicly and have websites where they publish open data.
• "Chernihivoblagrolis" - due to hostilities temporarily suspended.
• Zhytomyr "Zhytomyroblagrolis" - in 2022, the website has not been created; there is no public information about the activities of this utility company on the website of the founder of the Zhytomyr Regional Council, and answers to inquiries about the state of the environment are not provided.
• "Ivano-Frankivskoblagrolis" - a website has not been created; there is no public information about the activities of this utility company on the website of the founder of the Ivano-Frankivsk regional Council, and answers to inquiries about the state of the environment are not provided.
• "Volynoblagrolis", "Khmelnytskoblagrolis", and "Ternopiloblagrolis" - exist only formally; no activity is carried out.
• "Vinnytsiaoblagrolis" provides answers to appeals, in particular about the volume of illegal logging, but the website does not work; the website of the founder of the Vinnytsia Regional Council does not have public information about the activities of this utility.
• «Kyvoblagrolis» had already had a website in 2022, but the necessary information on the state of the environment is still missing.
For communal forestry enterprises, where the founders are district and village councils, there is no information on the websites of the founders; there are no websites of the enterprises themselves, and there is no public information about the state of the environment.
NGO "ForestCom" is concerned about the above-mentioned state of publicity of communal forestry enterprises and notes the impossibility of public inspection of the state of the environment and the state of combating illegal logging in areas under the jurisdiction of these enterprises.
It also draws attention to the fact that forestry utilities are established by local governments to meet certain needs of the public, such as public participation in the protection and reproduction of forests that directly affect the quality of life, meeting the needs of forest resources based on their rational use, meeting the needs of the consumer market in forest products. Public access to information about their activities allows citizens to participate in the proper implementation of social, environmental and economic tasks, compliance with the law, as well as the targeted use of financial and material resources.
We remind you that according to Art. 3, 4, 5, 13, 14 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information," the right to access public information is guaranteed and is the duty of public authorities and local governments, as managers of information, to disclose information received or created in the process of their activities. Access to information is provided by providing information upon request for information.
Utilities can be, among other things, managers of information on the state of the environment and information of public interest. According to Art. 5, 6, 29 of the Law of Ukraine "On Information" everyone has the right to information guaranteed by the obligation of the subjects of power to inform the public and the media about their activities and decisions, as well as state and public control over compliance with legislation on the information. Among other things, the subject of public interest is information that ensures the realization of constitutional rights, freedoms and responsibilities; indicates harmful environmental and other negative consequences of activities (inaction) of individuals or legal entities; in addition, the list of information is not exhaustive.
According to Art. 78 of the Commercial Code of Ukraine, utilities must disclose information about their activities, except as provided by law, by posting it on their own website (website) or on the official website of the subject of management of the communal property. This article also defines the list of information on the activities of the enterprise, which must be made public and which is legally recognized as socially necessary and open.
Thus, forestry utilities, among others, are managers of information on the state of the environment and information of public interest and are obliged to publish information about their activities on the website and provide answers to requests for access to public information.
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