Dvina-Pinega Reserve: Three years guarding the North
Thanks to the joint efforts of environmental organizations, research community, authorities and timber companies, this vitally important habitat continues to exist as a source of natural values and communities’ livelihood. Being home to many Red Book species, Dvina-Pinega Landscape Reserve contributes to climate regulation, protecting the river outlets from shallowing and maintaining the conditions for traditional use of natural resources.
The establishment of the reserve was preceded by long on-site studies and negotiation of the borders. The first expedition, organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences Ural Branch – Institute of the Ecological Problems of the North - took place in 2001. Subsequent studies were headed by WWF Russia and involved dozens of scientists from leading research organizations in Arkhangelsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Those expeditions generated a set of the materials that were later used for justifying Dvina-Pinega Reserve as valuable habitat, that needs conservation to fulfill its functions.
“Dvina-Pinega landscape plays a crucial role as a habitat for many rare and endangered fauna and flora species and is home to minimum 10% of the area’s salmon spawning grounds. It contributes to rivers staying clean and full-flowing, serving also as a barrier to cold Arctic air and reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases. This is one of the area’s greatest climate regulators,” says Vladimir Anufriev, PhD (Biology), Head of Bioresources and Ethnography Laboratory at RAS Ural Branch Federal Center for Integrated Arctic Research.
Hardly debated Dvina-Pinega Reserve borders were finally approved by the governor, Arkhangelsk Ministry of Natural Resources and Timber Complex, MPs, and all the environmentally responsible timber companies, leasing the Dvina-Pinega forest compartments. The justification of the Dvina-Pinega establishment was prepared by the Regional Center for Nature Management and Environmental Protection, as instructed by the Arkhangelsk Government.
The borders are delineated to ensure that the Dvina-Pinega landscape’s most valuable part – an area of 302,000 hectares, or one third of intact forests between the rivers of the Northern Dvina and Pinega, or merely 1% of Arkhangelsk Region’s total forested area – is conserved.
Nevertheless, the protective status does not prevent the local communities from harvesting wild herbs, hunting and fishing. What it does prohibit is any kind of activity that can cause damage to forest ecosystems, such as industrial timber harvesting.
“Dvina-Pinega Landscape Reserve forms the core of a vast landscape with unique natural values. This landscape is home to more than 115,000 people whose living is closely connected with the forest. Forestry enterprises operate here. To facilitate local development and sustain balance of the ecosystem’s economic, social and ecological values, WWF Russia teamed up with Earthworm Foundation for Dvina Landscape Initiative. The initiative aims to develop the landscape’s ecological network, promote sustainable forest management, and promote livelihood for the local communities from ecotourism and non-timber forest products,” said Nikolay Larionov, Head of WWF-Russia Office in Arkhangelsk.