Germany and Russia continue the dialogue about the future of Bikin forests
The issues of Russian-German cooperation on climate initiatives and prospects for climate project development in the Russian Far East were presented by Yury Darman, director of the Amur branch of WWF Russia and Evgeniy Lepeshkin, coordinator of forest management projects at the Amur branch of WWF Russia at an informal meeting in Vladivostok with the Ambassador of the German Federative Republic Ulrich Brandenburg. The ambassador showed great interest in the project’s success and pointed out its importance and innovative position as the first such project in Russia. Mr. Brandenburg was also interested in WWF’s other projects in the Russian Far East. At the end of the meeting he said that he has long dreamed to visit the unique Bikin forests, of which he has heard so much about, as a tourist.
The cooperation of Russia and Germany on Amur tiger conservation has a long and fruitful history. Namely thanks to WWF Germany in 1994 a WWF field office was opened in Vladivostok and an anti-poaching program was launched. In 1997 a German project on protection of Far Eastern forests stimulated the development of FSC certification, actions against illegal timber harvesting, the establishment of nature reserves, national parks and wildlife refuges.
Since 2007 the activities have been concentrated on the unique Bikin River Basin, where together with indigenous peoples' enterprise “Tiger” the TACIS project was implemented to maintain traditional livelihoods of the indigenous peoples: in Krasny Yar village an ethnic-cultural center and museum were constructed, workshops were organized for sewing and embroidering traditional clothes, furniture and boatmaking, and the production of birchbark handicrafts.
Two years ago WWF in collaboration with the Udege indigenous peoples elaborated a conservation plan to protect the last forests of the Bikin River – 461 154 hectares of Korean pine forest and riparian forests were leased as a conservation concession for 49 years with the right to harvest non-timber forest products, first of all Korean pine nuts. Because Bikin forests sequester largequantities of carbon and play an important role in mitigating climate change, the project obtained support in the framework of the International Initiative of the German Federal Government on climate change stabilization.
“The revenues gained from the project were allocated for financing forest inventory of the conservation concession and elaboration of a development plan, control of forest fire and poaching, building capacity for collection and processing of non timber forest products. – says Yury Darman, director of WWF Russia Amur branch. - And primarily - all necessary documentation is prepared for receiving financial support in the framework of the Kyoto protocol through so-called “carbon credits”.
On June, 17, 2011 in the course of bilateral negotiations between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a Memorandum of understanding was signed to support implementation of the project “Protection of intact Bikin forests to minimize the impact of climate change (Far East, Russia)”. Thus, a real mechanism was developed for leveraging international financial support for the conservation of intact virgin forest massifs.
Owing to the successful implementation of joint Russian-German projects, the German Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the German Development Bank (KfW) at the International Tiger Conservation Forum in St.-Petersburg (21-24.11.2010) announced a new project on Korean pine-broadleaf forest conservation in the Amur tiger’s range, which was launched in Primorsky, Khabarovsky and Evreiskaya Provinces on 1 August 2011. From now on Korean pine-broadleaf forests across the Far East will all receive conservation attention.