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Премия рунета 2017

TIS student brigade patrols Christmas tree markets on the New Year’s Eve

19 december 2018
On the New Year’s Eve WWF Russia and TIS student brigade of Primorskaya Agricultural Academy remind: black fir – an endemic tree species of Primorsky province prohibited for harvesting should not become a Christmas tree.

Considering the fact that many people cannot think about the New Year celebration without a living fir tree, WWF Russia and TIS brigade call attention to conifer tree species prohibited for harvesting such as Japanese yew, Korean pine and Manchurian fir.

The border of Manchurian fir distribution lies through the territory of Primorsky province. Forests with Manchurian fir to an even greater degree than Korean pine forests suffered from long-term economic impact and are in fact endangered. Total area of ​​forests with this valuable tree species in Russia is only about 23 thousand hectares, that is only 0.2% of the state forest fund of Primorsky province.

Manchurian fir forests
Elena Starostina / WWF Russia
“Manchurian fir can often be seen growing near big cities such as Vladivostok, Ussuriysk, Artyom, so some people may get a false impression of its wide spreading. However, this is not true: the southern Primorye is the only place in Russia where the Manchurian fir grows. This large coniferous tree reaches 50m in height and 2m in diameter, says Evgeny Lepeshkin, senior coordinator of forest projects at the WWF-Russia Amur branch. - On the New Year’s Eve, its undergrowth is especially suffering from illegal logging, but it also happens that large trees of this forbidden to harvest tree appear on the city squares as New Year trees. Every resident of Primorye can contribute to the preservation of forests with MAnchurian fir, even just being attentive to the kind of tree purchased as a New Year tree. Moreover, the Manchurian fir can be easily distinguished from other conifers growing in the south of Primorye, by its sharp long needles and dark-gray bark color ”.
TIS brigade and Evgeny Lepeshkin, WWF Russia Amur branch
Elena Starostina / WWF Russia

Unfortunately, the problem of logging of Manchurian fir forests remains challenging today. This November, rangers of the Primorsky Forestry Department, together with WWF Russia experts, discovered an illegal logging site of Manchurian fir in the suburbs of Vladivostok. All felled trees were giants and reached one meter in diameter.

The experimental forestry unit of the Primorsky State Agricultural Academy plays a key role in the conservation of the most valuable Manchurian fir forests. In 2011 with support of WWF Russia, this site with an area of ​​29,000 hectares, bordering the Ussuriysky Nature Reserve, was assigned to the Academy with the right to carry out educational activities and research. Here lies the northern border of Manchurian fir forests, and the area of ​​ these unique forests is about 7 thousand hectares.

TIS brigade patrols the forestry unit and protects it from illegal logging. With support of WWF Russia, the Forestry Innovation Center and Toyota Environmental Activities Grant Program, students from TIS brigade are trained to reveal illegal logging sites and test KEDR system.

Students from TIS brigade are trained to reveal illegal logging sites and test KEDR system
Elena Starostina / WWF Russia

Thus, in November, during field patrols, student brigade discovered illegal logging sites, including one case in the 26 quarter of the Rakovsky forestry unit, on the leased territory of the Academy. The stumps of oak and black birch were found, the wood was sawn into pieces and prepared for transportation. Police officers and Ussuriysky foresters were called to the place of illegal logging and  conducted an inspection of the site. The volume of illegal logging amounted to 8.5 cubic meters, the damage - 1 300 000 rubles, a criminal case was initiated under article 260 “illegal logging”. Another logging site with felled ash, Manchurian walnut and Amur cork trees was revealed by TIS brigade near the village of Kamenushka. Here, another innovation is being worked out by students - the evaluation of the volume of illegally harvested timber using the KEDR system and a drone.

Measuring a felled cork tree
Elena Starostina / WWF Russia

“Thanks to these patrols, students get an efficient training in forest management. 10 active students regularly patrol our forest area and learn to identify illegal logging sites, and to bring poachers to administrative and criminal responsibility. We are currently working with colleagues from WWF on a methodology for inspecting logging sites using a drone. We have already learned how to quickly and accurately determine the amount of timber left in a felling site using photo plans made up from a drone. This is a very useful tool that simplifies and improves the current procedure for the examination of cutting areas,” says Alexander Ivanov, an associate professor at the Institute of Forestry of the Primorskaya State Agricultural Academy.

Illegally felled ash tree
Elena Starostina / WWF Russia

With support of WWF Japan an off-roader was purchased for TIS brigade. Moreover, the brigade is equipped with outfits, boots and all necessary forestry tools: GPS navigators, altimeters, etc.

On the New Year’s Eve, this equipment will be of great help to students in preventing logging of conifer trees on the territory of the forestry unit and in patrolling of Christmas tree markets in Ussuriisk.

For additional information please contact
Leading Project Coordinator