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We will not allow selling protective forests to loggers in Primorye!

12 february 2009
Approaching February 18, when an open logging auction will be held, WWF-Russia demands to withdraw forest plots planned to be prescribed for logging in four wildlife refuges and five Korean pine nut harvesting zones in P

Forestry Agency of Primorskii Province put up for auction over 400 forest plots to conduct tending and sanitary cutting in protective forests of Primorye. Press conference held on February 12 in Vladivostok was dedicated to the danger of destruction of valuable Korean pine stands and rare species habitats.

Denis Smirnov, head of forest program at WWF-Russia’s Amur branch, listed the number of violations of law. One of them was that the Forest Agency did not take into consideration new Regulations on three regional and one federal wildlife refuges, ignored appeals of local people asking to lease Bikinskaya and Melnichnaya Korean pine nut harvesting zones for collecting herbs and edible plants and leading responsible hunting practices.

“Unfortunately, we can not prevent tending cutting in protective forests by simply cure the breaches in law, - says Denis Smirnov. – Tending of forest in Primorye has been long a loophole for conducting large-scale illegal cutting.”

“In the village of Krasnyi Yar local aboriginal tribe can not get the permission to cut trees for construction of houses or for fire wood. And this is at a time when the very same Korean pine nut harvesting zone is being prescribed for logging. This zone belongs to us but over 15 years we can not get the approval to establish territory of traditional nature use. The auction demonstrates cynic attitude of authorities to the issues of aboriginal people”, - says Pavel Sulyandziga, first vice-president of the Association of Indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East of Russia.”

WWF considers very timely the official demand from Yurii Trutnev, Minister of nature resources and ecology of Russia to Sergei Darkin, Governor of Primorskii Province, made on February 11, to stop the auction for logging in Leopardovyi wildlife refuge; WWF believes that measures should be taken immediately to remove law violations in regard to other protective forests where logging operations are planned.