Mass felling of trees in north Azerbaijan continue, activists warn

10 June 2021
Image via Ecofront.

Environmental activists estimate that nearly five hectares of trees were illegally cut down in the village of Farzalioba in northern Azerbaijan. The trees were located on land owned by Adil Salimov, the father of Azerbaijani MP Eldaniz Salimov. 

Ecofront, an Azerbaijan-based environmental NGO, first published information about the incident on 1 June.

Javid Gara, a co-founder of Ecofront, told OC Media, that trees are still being felled despite the fact that Garb Ekol, the company that has been chopping the trees, has already been fined by the authorities and reported on 8 June that they had stopped felling operations. 

Hikmet Alizadeh, the head of the State Ecological Service has said that the Ministry of Ecology began imposing fines on 25 May because they were felled without the permission of the Ministry — a violation of the Forest Code of Azerbaijan. 

‘Initially, a fine of ₼7,000 ($4,100) was imposed, on 31 May a fine of ₼ 25,000 ($14,700), on 2 June a fine of ₼ 33,040 ($19,400). For two nights, our staff guarded the area. Today we have partially stopped that work’, Alizadeh said on June 8 in a live Facebook address.

The fines were not imposed on Salimov, however, but rather on Garb Ekol, which according to documents shown to OC Media by Ecofront representatives, was hired to ‘clear bushes and trees from the land’ owned by Salimov. 

Javid Gara has argued that fines from the government do not address the fundamental issue in this case.   

‘These lands were once a forest fund. By a false court decision, it was transferred to the municipal fund and then to Adil Salimov’, Gara said, adding that so long as ‘official arbitrariness’ continues ‘such cases will happen again.’

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