What Local People Think about Conservation of Intact Forests between Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers
Firewood collection, mushrooms and berries picking, hunting and fishing are more than just a part of their life. These activities are means of survival for local people. According to the research more than 70% of men of active age go fishing and hunting on this territory. Thus, most part of the respondents (96 %) voiced concerns about the access restrictions and prohibition on traditional ways of natural resources usage.
A public opinion poll was taken in June and July in Arkhangelsk and 15 communities in Vinogradovsky, Pinezhsky and Kholmogorsky districts. In total 216 adults responded to a poll. List of respondents includes executives and specialists from local government and municipalities, timber companies and forest management authorities, school heads and teachers, specialist from libraries and cultural centers, entrepreneurs and salesmen, activists from community governments and other locals.
13 % of the respondents support the conservation initiative. They consider a protected area status as a way to conserve local forests, to save them for hunting and fishing and to promote the development of small local business and tourism. Those respondents are concerned about the rapid forest degradation as they understand the forests role in the global environmental process.
Over half of the respondents (57 %) vote for or don’t mind if the reserve created in case they won’t have any significant limitations of natural resources’ exploration. For locals it’s crucial to save the access to this territory fish, hunt and pick mushrooms and berries as well to use their huts on the territory of the planned reserve. If forest reserve status means free access to the territory for individuals and restrictions are applied only for the industrial harvesting, locals will support the creation of the protected area.
30% of the respondents declare themselves against the forest conservation. Such position was determined by their concerns for the access restrictions and lack of trust in the government, environmental organizations and all other actors. “Access to the forest, fishing and hunting will be forbidden” and “even if those activities are allowed in the beginning, the severe restrictions will be finally implemented,” stated the respondents from this group.
Current research also shows that local people worry about potential economic decline in the forest sector and following job cuts. The latter is the cause for concern for 30% of respondents, mostly from Rochegda, Selmenga, Yasny and Karpogory settlements. According to the District Administrations’ database 850 people (4% of local population) in Pinezhsky District and 1 163 people (8% of local population) in Vinogradovsky District are employed in forest sector.
WWR-Russia stresses the importance of the creation of a protected area that will allow to conserve environmental values, support long-term operational stability of forest companies and let locals use their forests for hunting, fishing, mushroom and berries picking. Still, a long-term strategy for social and economic development of this territory should be developed and implemented.
Headline photo: Andrey Shegolev / WWF-Russia