Russia may lose 2.5 mln ha of intact forests in the nearest 5 years
Now the project involves only forest plantation, while thinning in young stands is necessary as well as the conservation of the intact forests. "For the formation of economically valuable forest stands, it is crucial to provide thinning in young stands," said Igor Chestin, WWF-Russia Director. − And if the minimum need for thinning in young stands is about 2 million hectares, then they are actually performed over the area of about 270 thousand hectares, or 13% of the real need. At the same time, in the vast majority of cases, thinning is conducted for the sake of appearance, to meet the plan using a "corridor" method, which is absolutely useless from a forestry point of view."
WWF-Russia urges to stop wasting money and not to plant a forest where it will not be cared for. "The Federal Agency for Forestry proposes to increase the area of forest plantations at the expense of the budget to 900 thousand hectares with the planned area of 270 thousand hectares, which is meaningless, since planting should be carried out where there is commercial demand for wood, supported by thinning in young stands," says Igor Chestin. “The experience of boreal countries shows that the main indicator is the area of thinning in young stands, not the planted area. At the same time, the state should not pay for planting or thinning in leased forests, but should create real incentives for long-term investments of forest companies in improving the forest fund."
The representatives of the forest industry also note the imperfection of the project in terms of thinning in young stands. "The goals are insufficient. Ensuring the balance of reforestation and deforestation (100% of the cut areas should be restored) is, of course, good, but not enough, comments Ilya Verveyko, head of forest policy of JSC Ilim Group. "We need another goal of thinning in young stands." The expert also noted the lack of tasks in the project on areas of care for young forests.
Due to the lack of goals and indicators for thinning in young stands, the national project in the current version does not contribute to the formation of economically valuable plantations in secondary forests, but stimulates further development of intact forest landscapes. Moreover, the project does not set the task of conservation and monitoring of these most ecologically valuable forests, despite the fact that the government decree "Fundamentals of state policy in the field of use, protection, and reproduction of forests in the Russian Federation" adopted in 2013, provides for the creation of the National Forest Heritage, i.e. a fund of intact forests excluded from logging.
WWF-Russia worked in detail on each section of the project and gave its suggestions and recommendations for correcting the existing shortcomings in the project.
Headline photo: © Oleg Kabalik / WWF-Russia