$50Bln Sought for Timber Industry

ST. PETERSBURG -- The government wants to attract 1.2 trillion rubles ($51.2 billion) of investment into the country's forests by 2020, seeking to expand production and curb exports of unprocessed timber.

The industry should be more competitive and sustainable, Deputy Industry and Energy Minister Denis Manturov said Wednesday in a statement posted on the ministry's web site.

Forests in the most accessible areas, including in Karelia near Finland, are being depleted and new projects will be focused elsewhere, including Siberia and the Far East, he said.

Russia has imposed taxes on exports of unprocessed wood. The state will partly fund the biggest projects and encourage the use of timber in construction, Manturov said. A final proposal on the new policy will be submitted June 1.

The ministry said Tuesday that it had issued approvals for 13 projects in the forestry industry since February, totaling 144 billion rubles ($6.1 billion).