On October 1, 2019, the Government of the Arkhangelsk Region adopted a resolution on the establishment of Regional Dvina-Pinega Landscape Reserve. The new protected area which WWF-Russia and other environmental organizations have been working for more than 17 years to secure, will protect 300 000 hectares of rapidly disappearing Northern taiga, the last large array of intact forests in Europe. Intact forests are rapidly disappearing with experts estimating that Russia could lose them all in about 80 years if they are not protected. In Arkhangelsk Region this could happen even within several decades.
The new reserve is located between the Northern Dvina and Pinega rivers, within the territory of Vinogradovsky, Verkhnetoemsky, Pinezhsky and Kholmogorsky districts of Arkhangelsk region.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of these intact forests as they were remaining untouched by logging and infrustructure building for several thousands years. They play a critical role in ensuring the quality of the environment: regulate climate and air purifying, reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, protect against floods and soil destruction, guard the sources of rivers and lakes.
salmon spawning rivers in Arkhangelsk Region originate or flow in the
territory of the reserve, and the whole salmon population depends on the purity of these rivers. These forests have a highly diverse flora and fauna. You may find here such traditional inhabitants of the taiga as brown bear, wolf, lynx, wolverine, moose. There are many rare species listed in the Red book among them such as flying squirrel, erne,
For local communities, this taiga is an important source of livelihood as it is a hunting, fishing and gathering place for many. The new protected area status of this forest zone will ensure that these communities get to enjoy these benefits for generations to come. Only intensive activities, like industrial logging, are not permitted in the reserve area.
The establishment of the reserve was preceded by significant field efforts, the identification of flora and fauna, rare species, designing the project, and coordinating the borders with the timber industry and the authorities.
HISTORY OF THE RESERVE ESTABLISHMENT:
The scientists from the Institute of Ecological Problems of the North of the Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences first highlighted the ecological value of this territory in the early 2000s. From 2003 to 2009, WWF-Russia organized several expeditions to the Dvina-Pinega watershed. Scientists, forestry specialists, ecologists from Arkhangelsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg took part to study the area comprehensively. In 2008, the reserve was officially included into the Forest Plan of Arkhangelsk Region, and in 2011 it was included into the regional Territorial Planning Scheme.
In 2013, the project of the reserve establishment successfully passed and was approved by the State Ecological Expertise. The negotiations between the environmental organizations, e.g. WWF-Russia, and regional timber companies to agree upon the borders of the reserve lasted for six years. Based on a balance of environmental, social and economic interests, the FSC voluntary forest certification was a powerful tool in finding a compromise. Finally, in April 2018, all the stakeholders reached a compromise which resulted in the signing of an agreement outlining the borders of the reserve.
In 2018-2019, additional studies were carried out, and the updated ecological and economic justification passed the state ecological expertise and approval in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. On October 1, 2019, the government of Arkhangelsk Region adopted the reserve establishment resolution.
A significant contribution will be Dvinsky Forest Landscape Stewardship Initiative to be launched by WWF-Russia in 2020, which will take into account the landscape approach for the integrated development of the territories. This will draw on international support from the Living European Rivers and the Bankable Water Solutions, a WWF initiative that aims to support and finance solutions for the world’s most biodiverse landscapes.