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ŠUMARSKI LIST 1-2/2011 str. 4     <-- 4 -->        PDF



Recently, the Government, the Church and the public have been concerned with the topic of whether the public
enterprise Hrvatske Vode should be legally transformed into a company or not. Faced with stiff opposition by the
Church and the public, according to the media reports, the Government is going to withdraw the prepared Act from
the procedure. In the estimate of its opponents, the Act would enable the sale of national water resources. Article
52 of the Constitution stipulates the following: “The sea, the coast and islands,waters, airspace, mining resources
and other natural treasures, but also land property, woods, plants and animals, other parts of nature, immovable
property and items of particular cultural, historic, economic and ecologic significance, which are of interest for
the Republic of Croatia according to law, have its particular protection”. Politicians are not to be trusted, however:
the implementation of the proposed Act could mark a dangerous step towards the sale of the family silver.
When the Croatian Forestry Association opposed the conversion of the public enterprise Hrvatske Šume into a limited
liability company using identical arguments, it did not meet with any support. Do we deal here with a double
standard or is this the case of “subsequent wisdom”, in other words, the case of finally opening our eyes? The proposed
Act puts water supplies at risk, but the forest which stores, preserves and cleanses this same water and which
is also treated as a national resource is not at risk! Or maybe it is? According to the Croatian encyclopedia, a company
is defined as a “private-legal association, allowed by legislation, for the purpose of achieving a common
goal. Companies in a stricter sense of the word are associations which carry on business with the goal of making a
profit .... “According to the same source, a public enterprise is a “colloquial term for a company that deals with an
activity of public interest”. In defense of our attitude, we pointed out that a public enterprise is not allowed to make
irrational business and that its primary aim is not to receive state funding; on the contrary, its task is first and foremost
to carry out its functions in a professional and responsible manner. Therefore, if the public company HrvatskeŠume was capable of carrying out all the activities for forest owners that characterize sustainable forest management
and of financing them from its own income and means obtained from non-market forest functions (OKFŠ), taking
on the classical economic role (harvesting timber) and ensuring non-timber forest functions (both ecological
and social), then it was simply not wise for a clever owner to seek a new organizational form. All the owner had to
do was to check that the financial means were rationally used and see if more could have been achieved with these
means, since we are aware that there is no profit in forestry if we strive to restitute to the forest at least a small
share of what it gives to us through our activities.By supporting the attitude of the Church and the public related to
the water issue, we must also answer the question of where the forestry profession is now.

We have a limited liability company Hrvatske Šume, but a new problem is emerging: the issue of granting forest
concessions. In the Croatian Encyclopedia mentioned above it says “concession (lat. concessio) in a broader
sense is the act of yielding, conceding, as a right, a privilege. In general, concession is a special contract granting
the right to operate an activity”. To put it more freely, we could say that the State grants the right to someone else
to do something because we do not know or are not capable of doing it rationally ourselves. Is not this an outright
insult to Croatian forestry with an almost 250-year-long tradition and to a company with about one thousand forestry
experts and some ten thousand employees? As for the issue of profit, which the state, as we have pointed out
earlier, unjustifiably expects from forestry, who on this earth would invest considerable means into a foreign country,
only to receive back less than invested (unless the noble goal is to fight for the welfare of the citizens of the
country, especially those from rural areas, which would be preposterous to expect from a profiteer!)? We should
also ask why the profession and the company did not react more firmly to these rumours. Further on, the Encyclopaedia
states explicitly: “Concession cannot be granted for forests and other legally designated goods in state
ownership”. In spite of this, however, there are proposals on granting concessions, and even selling forests, as a
way out of the economic crisis. According to the statements of the competent minister, we may optimistically hope
that this will not happen. We would like to know, however, where these proposals are coming from. We are convinced
that they are not coming from any forestry experts. It may just be the case of “testing the public” by those same
economic experts who have driven us into the economic crisis or by those legal experts who have written the laws
bywhich Croatia has been plundered. Admittedly, the law was adhered to, but what about the morals?

This topic is intended to encourage discussions and analyses of the impacts of external factors on the forest
and the forestry profession, but also to review the current condition and the solutions within the profession.
Editorial Board