Data from EFA vehicle tickets show large-scale logging above the allowed quantities. Forest experts and software specialists analyzed them using state-of-the-art technologies and revealed the scale of illegal logging in Bulgaria over the past few years. The photos of overloaded trucks, which export our forest to Greece and Turkey around the clock, are not accidental, but illustrate a slender scheme for criminal enrichment, about which the state authorities turn a blind eye, or worse – frankly lie. And companies exceeding drastically the allowed quantities for logging, without surprises, are related to power.
Recently, the Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Desislava Taneva publicly announced to parliamentary control that for 2019 illegal logging amounted to 18,451 dense cubic meters. M.. This is 33 TIMES LESS than the actual illegal logging carried out in 2019. Official data in the tickets show exceedances of the logging permits amounting to 603,438 dense cubic meters. !
The derivation of these numbers is not a complicated operation: sum the allowed cubic meters and compare them with the sum of the reported cubic meters in the vehicle tickets. Such aggregate data are not provided by the EFA, which is also a violation of the law, but can be extracted “the hard way” from public records. Our team did just that. We downloaded document by document the data on felling and transport of felled trees for the last 5 years, after which we subjected them to a specialized computer analysis. We have also created a convenient search engine that can be searched by company name. This is not possible on the public website of the Executive Forest Agency.
Thus, it becomes clear that annually, according to the data on transport tickets, more than 600,000 cubic meters of wood are cut down and transported from the forest in excess of the quantities specified in the logging permit for the respective forest. Nearly 1/10 of the annual logging of 6-7 million cubic meters is carried out in a criminal way.
“Official” and “unofficial” criminal logging
It is important to clarify that here we are talking about the “official” criminal logging – when there is a permit, but the quantity is exceeded. It is criminal because, according to Art. 235, para. 1 of the Criminal Code For a crime is tried, every “who, without a regular written permit or with a regular permit, but beyond the places, terms, quantity and trees specified therein, felles, collects , harvests, takes or transports from the forest fund any trees or part of them“.
But from the documents we can draw reasonable conclusions about the schemes that conceal the theft of many times larger quantities of wood exported from the forest without documents or by transhipment of trucks and trucks.
For 2020 (as of 20 September) according to the logging register, 7,032,982 cubic meters of wood are allowed, and according to the register of transport tickets, 1,331,994 have been harvested and transported from the forest. However, 1 /4 of the 46 532 logging permits issued, namely 12 113 felling permits, exceeded the permissible quantities of felling, which amounted to a total of 284 470 cubic meters.
For 2019 According to the felling register, 8 941 227 cubic meters of wood are allowed to be harvested, and according to the register of transport tickets, 6 692 046 were harvested and transported from the forest. However, more than 1/3 of the 62,206 logging permits issued, namely 23,521 felling permits, exceeded the permissible quantities of felling, which totaled 603,438 cubic meters.
For 2018 According to the logging register, 9,226,369 cubic meters of wood are allowed, and according to the register of transport tickets, 7,139,032 were harvested and transported from the forest. However, more than 1/3 of the 67,238 logging permits issued, namely 26,739 felling permits, exceeded the permissible amounts to 691,066 cubic meters.
For 2017 According to the felling register, 9 217 292 cubic meters of wood are allowed, and according to the register of transport tickets, 7 048 949 were harvested and transported from the forest. However, more than 1/3 of the 65,025 logging permits issued, namely 25,359 felling permits, exceeded the permissible quantities of felling, which totaled 649,655 cubic meters.
2016 year is not included in the analyses of the data on vehicle tickets and exported wood on them, as they are full of errors and are probably deliberately confused to cover up huge violations. But they too, again for about 1/3 of the 60,922 logging licenses issued, with an excess of 19,775 logging licenses, but the quantities of wood remain absolutely unknown.
In most cases, excess felling by license is justified by illegal felling, collection of dry fallen trees, transitional sites, extension of bark spots, and most of all by false forest data (often at times), technical errors and inaccurate forest inventory. All these conditions, however, are also the perfect prerequisites for large-scale theft from the forests when forest officials are unscrupulous or forced by their bosses or mayors to hide “mistakes” and realize hidden differences such as theft from the forest by overloading trucks with wood.
Why does a state-controlled industry worth hundreds of millions of levs a year maintain and allow false data on forests? The present analysis provides an unequivocal answer – in order to conceal abuses. A comprehensive reform of official information systems and forest data is therefore needed, ensuring their full transparency and correctness!
The overruns are for “Our, Honest Companies”
The analysis also analyzed the logging companies that have carried out the felling and removal of thousands of cubic meters of wood in excess of the logging permits. Companies are not advertised with their unique UIC, and their names are written in different ways, which makes it very difficult to automate the process and in many cases requires laborious manual intervention. It is not clear whether this is a deliberate extra or whether it is negligence in the design of data in the EFA information system.
More than 200 companies have exceeded 1000 cubic meters of wood for felling permits per year. Among them stand out 20-30 companies that have exceeded many times and have harvested quantities of wood significantly exceeding their allowed logging license, and most likely as many more, but completely illegal. For some of them, the connection with certain parliamentary parties is obvious, which raises the question whether there is protection and an umbrella from power.
The following graphs illustrate the results for the last 4 years for companies that have exceeded the maximum amount of wood by felling licenses.
Further analysis shows which are the leading companies that are provided with the largest quantities of logging annually through logging licenses. Favorites are allowed to cut off many times larger quantities than other companies. Again, the same companies matching those with exceedances find themselves in the lead. Here is an extract for the last 4 years:
All detailed data by year are presented in the Annex at the end of the material.
The top two companies in this ranking have a distinct relationship with those in power. The record holder Marconi Group Les Ltd. has a capital of only BGN 100. and is owned by Penka Bangeeva. Former owner is Evgeni Shishkov from Devin. In 2018, Evgeni Shishkov acquired the company “Tikka Trade” from Tencho Koychev Dimov, who is a director at Multifruit. It is a company of the former “Multigroup”, for whose warm relations with DPS solid public information is available.
The Tsarevo company “Aidi 555” Ltd. is associated with Angel Vigularov, regional coordinator of GERB and municipal councilor 3rd term in the municipality of GERB. Before developing under GERB as a powerful player on the market of legal and illegal logging in Strandja, the company has survived from public procurements awarded by the State Forestry “Kosti”, according to a reference in the contracts of the PPA.
Among the companies are also those for which there is evidence of links with the BSP, such as Sunna-2 Ltd. contacts the BSP (see article in the 24 Hours newspaper). This shows that the system benefits not only the rulers at the moment.
Who is the Mafia?
The answer to the big question, WHO IS WHO IS IN THE WOODEN MAFIA , IS CLEARLY OBTAINED FROM THE PRESENTED DATA? It becomes clear that the destruction and illegal deforestation of our forests is organized by the government itself, in the face of the institutions responsible for what is happening.
These institutions and their control bodies have allowed and allow at the moment, every day, to violate and violate the law crudely, and according to documents with clear evidence in them of what has been done. Companies close to the government receive fat profits, widespread corruption, destruction of invaluable forest resources and causes environmental disasters and water crises.
However, the data released from official documents is most likely only the tip of the iceberg. If, on paper, illegal exceedances of legal permits are already shocking, we can guess how much higher the actual amounts of logging in forests are compared to these official figures.
In this well-oiled mafia machine, the controllers are a voiceless letter. A forest official, speaking on condition of anonymity, shared with our team the following: “
I asked the company to allow me to write at least one transport ticket with correct information, but the company accompanied by a parliamentary car… refused
In order to stop this legalized, but criminal felling of the Bulgarian forests, there are solutions. The cutting of trees beyond the quantities authorised under a felling licence should be strictly prohibited and the same company and its affiliates should also be prohibited from being allowed to cut down more than 10 000 cubic metres per year.
But the heavy dependencies and connections of companies with the tacit ruling coalition between MRF and GERB make such a reform rather illusory at this stage.
The analysis of the official data was carried out using state-of-the-art technology, data robots, specialized software and powerful servers. All vehicle tickets for the last 5 years and the quantities of wood indicated in them and actually exported from the forest were analyzed, then these quantities were compared with the quantities under felling permits. A specialized search engine was created for all these data in view of the adequate analysis and correction of the incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate parts found in the official data. There may be minimal errors, which would in any case be due to inaccuracies in official data. The data published here reflect to the maximum extent the real situation.
Download the application as a PDF file here: gori-annexes3
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