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Direct compensation for private forest owners gets parliament backing

Swiss parliamentarians have been discussing a financial aid package worth nearly SFr500 million for the forestry industry. The debate comes in the wake of last December's storms, which ravaged Switzerland's forests and sent timber prices tumbling.

This content was published on March 15, 2000 - 23:01

Swiss parliamentarians have been discussing a financial aid package worth nearly SFr500 million for the forestry industry. The debate comes in the wake of last December's storms, which ravaged Switzerland's forests and sent timber prices tumbling.

The House of Representatives came out in favour of direct payments to forest owners worth SFr120 million.

Parliamentarians voted by 123 votes to 46 to approve the package, dismissing government warnings that such a settlement was open to abuse.

The House however, rejected a government proposal to subsidise the storage of surplus wood by SFr26 million. This reduced the value to SFr457 million of a government-backed aid package to repair damage to forests and promote the sale of timber, instead of the original sum of nearly half a billion francs.

Even though the issue of compensation has met with general approval, the political parties are still deeply divided over the level of compensation, as well as how it should be distributed.

The Senate has yet to discuss the issue.

Hurricane Lothar hit Switzerland on December 26, killing 14 people and destroying thousands of hectares of forest.

Winds of 150 kilometres per hour brought down around 13 million cubic metres of timber.

The resulting glut of wood depressed timber prices.

swissinfo and agencies

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