Law no. 374/2006, amended by Law no. 252/2018 regulates the recess/suspension of the forestry public services against the owners of forest land for which the documents provided in art. III paragraph (1) of Law no. 169/1997 for amending and supplementing the Law of the Land Fund no. 18/1991 have been issued.
Registration with the court by one of the authorities referred to in art. 2 of Law no. 374/2006 corroborated with art. III, paragraph 2 of Law no. 169/1997 (the County Committee, mayor, prefect, the National Authority for Property Restitution and other authorities/persons with a legitimate interest) of an application requesting the nullity of the property documents under Law no. 18/1991 may lead to the suspension of the forestry public services.
Suspension of the forestry public services means the suspension of all the activities that ensure the realization and the observance of the forest regime, namely, the activities regarding the planning, growth, exploitation, protection and guard of the forest fund, in order to ensure the sustainable management.
By suspending the forestry services, the exploitation authorizations become null, the cutting works are stopped, and the owners would be unable to exploit the forest land which would lead to a degradation of the forest and to negative financial consequences.
In November 2018, amendments and completions were made to the Law no. 374/2006, through Law no. 252/2018. Thus, the provisions of art. 3, art. 4, art. 6, paragraph 1 and the provisions of art. 1, para. (2) and (3), art. 7 were amended.
According to the new amendments, at art. 1, after par. (1), two new paragraphs are inserted, namely paras. (2) – (3), with the following content:
“(2) For the purpose of the present law, by suspending the forestry public services means the suspension of all activities that ensure the realization and observance of the forest regime, as defined by Law no. 46/2008 – The forestry code, republished, with the subsequent modifications and completions, except for the safeguarding of the forest fund and the supervision of the health status of the forest, as well as the execution of the following specific technical works:
a) prevention and control of diseases and pests;
b) prevention and extinguishing fire;
c) regeneration of the forest;
d) the care of the regenerations and of the young trees in the stages of sowing and thickening;
e) enhancement and harvesting of accidental products (wood waste).
The completion is more than welcomed given the fact that based on the amended provisions of the Law no. 252/2018 the activities mentioned in paras. 2, namely those regarding the guard and protection of the forest land but also of the surveillance of the health status of the forest are exempted from suspension.
(3) Suspension of the forestry public services applies also to the owners who subsequently acquired the forest lands by means of documents of ownership, regardless of the nature of these documents.”
Even if the provisions of art. 1 of the aforementioned law speaks about the owners of the forest lands for which the documents provided in art. III, paragraph (1) of Law no. 169/1997 have been issued, in practice there were opinions (until the law was amended) which argued that this law would not apply only to the initial owner of the forest land, but also to the subsequent owners.
Article 1, paragraph 3 introduced by the amending law clearly provides that the provisions of Law no. 374/2006 also applies to the subsequent owners who acquired the forest land through documents of ownership.
According to the new regulation, art. 3 is amended and will have the following content:
“(1) The County Commissions for establishing the right of private property on the lands shall communicate to the specialized territorial structures of the central public authority responsible for forestry which are the owners of the forest lands located within the radius of the administrative-territorial unit for which the nullity of the titles of property has been invoked within the courts and for which it is requested the suspension of the forestry public services.
(2) For each owner, the communication provided in par. (1) must include at least the following:
a) the identification data of the owner of the forest land for which the nullity of the property title was invoked with the courts and the location of the plot of land;
b) the identification data of the forest land provided at letter. a), in accordance with the forest management in force; in case there is no forest management for the forest land in question, the identification data are those within the property title;
c) the decision and the explicit request to suspend the forestry public services.
(3) Within 5 working days from the receipt of the communication and the documents provided in par. (2), the specialized territorial structure of the central public authority responsible for forestry, takes, as the case may be, one of the following actions:
a) suspend the forestry public services, through administrative act issued by the head of the specialized territorial structure of the central public authority responsible for forestry;
b) requests the commission mentioned in par. (1) additions and clarifications to the documents received, if the documents and / or the information contained therein are insufficient for the suspension of the forestry public services.
(4) The administrative document provided in par. (3) lit. a) it is communicated to the County Commission provided in par. (1), to the owner / owners against whom the nullity of the property title has been invoked and to the forest district, which, up to the suspension of the forestry public services, has ensured the forest administration / services for the forest land in question”.
The procedure for communicating the data of the owners of the forest lands for which the nullity of the titles of property was invoked within the courts and for which the suspension of the forest services is requested is regulated in detail, each step to be followed by the authorities in order to establish the suspension being presented within the amended law, following the amendments made by Law no. 252/2018.
However, at art. 3, paras. 2, lit. c) it is necessary for the expression “the decision and the request” to be revised, in the sense of mentioning the nature of the decision referred to (the final decision of the court, the decision of the county commission).
I consider that the provisions cannot and do not refer at a definitive court decision as long as the rest of the articles talk about suspending the forestry services only on the basis of filling an application for the nullity of the property title and not after the final decision is issued by a court of law.
Article 4 of Law no. 374/2006 is modified and it regulates the way the protection of the forest fund and the supervision of the health status of the forest is ensured, the expenses determined by these activities and the way in which they will be borne, the amounts obtained by using the accidental products (wood waste) and their destination when they remain unused. Also, the termination of suspension is regulated by this law.
One of the most important additions to the Law no. 374/2006 refers to the approval of the definitive removal or temporary occupation from the national forest fund of the forest lands for which the forestry public services was suspended, modification introduced by art. 7.
These operations are carried out without the consent of the owner or the holder and only for the achievement of the purpose of national, county or local interest, declared of public utility under the conditions of the law. The request for the permanent removal or temporary occupation is approved by the forest district authority that ensures the protection of the forest fund, the supervision of the health status of the forest and the execution of the specific technical works, during the suspension of the forest services.
Attorney at Law Ana-Maria Alexandru