Poll: The vast majority of Kazakhstanis are against illegal tree cutting

According to the results of the DEMOSCOPE survey, 37% of those surveyed consider air pollution to be the main environmental problem. 

DEMOSCOPE Bureau of Public Opinion Express Monitoring conducted a survey of citizens on the topic of Attitude towards Environmental Issues in Kazakhstan. In total, from 8 to 12 December 2020, 1,100 people were interviewed in 14 regions and cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and Shymkent. The survey was conducted in the Kazakh and Russian languages ​​through telephone calls to landline numbers. The survey involved 53% of men and 47% of women over 18 years old. The sampling was based on the subscriber base of stationary telephone numbers in Kazakhstan. For this sample, the maximum size of the statistical error with a 95% probability does not exceed 3%.

The results of the DEMOSCOPE poll showed that the majority of Kazakhstanis (37%) consider air pollution to be the main environmental problem in the region. A third of respondents (30%) are concerned about the problem of garbage disposal and processing. 14% of the survey participants consider water pollution to be the main environmental problem in their region.

It is characteristic that the perception of residents of various environmental problems is directly influenced by the ecological situation in their regions. For example, residents of Almaty, Almaty and Karaganda regions reacted most negative to illegal cutting of trees.

According to the results of the survey, residents of Almaty and the East Kazakhstan region suffer most from air pollution. Residents of Turkestan and Almaty regions are most concerned about the problems of garbage disposal and processing.

An extremely important indicator is the willingness of citizens to protect and preserve the environment. According to the poll results, the majority of Kazakhstanis (64%) have an extremely negative attitude towards illegal felling of trees by large companies and demand tougher punishment for such violations. 26% of citizens are neutral about this situation. In their opinion, the authorities need to better monitor such violations, but they believe this is a “minor crime.” And only 6% reacted to such violations with understanding. In their opinion, business is now in a difficult situation.

The position of the state plays a key role in the issue of environmental protection. According to the majority of citizens (55%), the state, including the akimats and the Ministry of Ecology, is primarily responsible for the ecosystem preservation. A third of the respondents blame the population on the responsibility. Only 7% believe that large industrial enterprises and businesses should be responsible for the environment.

An undoubtedly important indicator is the willingness of citizens to take responsibility for nature conservation. According to the survey, the majority of respondents believe that fostering a respectful attitude towards nature among the population is the best solution to environmental problems. 22% of those surveyed are convinced that only tougher penalties for environmental offenses can improve the situation. 19% of citizens supported the development of renewable energy sources and waste recycling. 11% believe that an integrated approach is needed in this issue, and cardinal systemic changes in this area are required.

The illegal felling of the Red Book trees near the Sulpak store is known to have caused a great public outcry. The head of state drew attention to the fact of felling. The President instructed Akim Bakytzhan Sagintayev to conduct an official investigation of the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

It is obvious that the sharp reaction of Almaty residents in defense of green spaces is associated, among other things, with strong air pollution in the city. Unfortunately, to one degree or another, environmental problems are faced by residents of all regions of Kazakhstan.

Perhaps the problem of illegal felling of trees will be positively influenced by the draft order of the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, which provides for amendments and additions to the Standard Rules for the Maintenance and Protection of Green Spaces, the Rules for the Improvement of the Territories of Cities and Populated Areas, as well as the Rules for the Provision of “Trees cutting permission” State Service.

The draft document is posted on the website Open Statutes and Regulations for public discussion. In particular, it is proposed to introduce 30-fold compensation for illegal cutting of trees mentioned in the Red Book. Previously, the norm for illegal felling was the same for all trees – 20-fold compensation and a fine.

As you know, the right of citizens to a favorable environment is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Basic Law states: “The state aims to protect the environment favorable for human life and health.”

According to the National Report on the State of the Environment and the Use of Natural Resources in 2018, emissions of pollutants into the air from stationary sources, compared to 2017, increased by 3.8% and amounted to 2,446.7 thousand tons. In Almaty, according to the results of monitoring by the RSE “Kazhydromet”, the ecological state of the air basin in 2019 was 7 meaning a high level of pollution.

In the structure of morbidity of the population, the share of respiratory diseases is 43.5%, and only in Nur-Sultan the number of cases with respiratory diseases from 2015 to 2016 increased by 44%.

The telephone survey was carried out by KT Cloud Lab LLP contact center.

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The project is implemented by MediaNet International Centre for Journalism with the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation Office in Kazakhstan.

The survey data reflect the views of respondents.

Additional information: Snezhana Tsoy, snezhana.tsoy@medianet.kz.

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