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Премия рунета 2017

After 17 Years of Advocacy, the Dvina-Pinega Nature Reserve is Finally Established in the Arkhangelsk Region

01 october 2019
The new protected area which WWF-Russia and other environmental organizations have been working for more than 17 years to secure, will protect 300 000 hectares of rapidly disappearing Northern taiga, the last large array of intact forests in Europe.

On October 1, the Government of the Arkhangelsk Region adopted a resolution on the establishment of Regional Dvina-Pinega Landscape Reserve at a weekly government meeting. 

The new reserve is located between the Northern Dvina and Pinega rivers, within the territory of Vinogradovsky, Verkhnetoemsky, Pinezhsky and Kholmogorsky districts of Arkhangelsk region. It is here that one of the last intact forests in Europe remains. These forests are rapidly disappearing with experts estimating that Russia could lose them all in about 80 years if they are not protected. The intact forests are critical for maintaining the ecological balance of the region as they regulate the climate, absorb greenhouse gases and release oxygen, protect the headstreams, and are home for many animals, plants and species, including the wild forest reindeer which is included in the Red Data Book.

"Today is a day of paramount importance, when we make a balanced decision to establish the Dvina-Pinega nature reserve that we have been working together for many years. I thank everyone who has taken part in the work – WWF-Russia, Greenpeace, who showed perseverance that helped reach a compromise decision. We thank a lot today the forest companies who are aware of the importance of this work. It is crucial that today all participants in this process understand that only by joining forces we can do everything necessary to ensure that the natural system survives and performs its most important function in conserving the unique diversity of nature that we have inherited,” said Igor Orlov, Governor of Arkhangelsk Region.

For local communities, this taiga is an important source of livelihood as it is a hunting, fishing and gathering place for many. The new protected area status of this forest zone will ensure that these communities get to enjoy these benefits for generations to come. Only intensive activities, like industrial logging, are not permitted in the reserve area.
 


This forest is at least 4 000 years old
One of WWF-Russia's expeditions into the heart of intact taiga
Logging sites along the planned Dvina-Pinega Reserve borders
Dvina-Pinega intact taiga forest
(с) Igor Shpilenok

The establishment of the reserve was preceded by significant field efforts, the identification of flora and fauna, rare species, designing the project, and coordinating the borders with the timber industry and the authorities. Implementation of sustainable forest management practices in the region required long-term efforts and cooperation of all stakeholders. The pioneer expeditions to the Dvinsky taiga forest first took place in early 2002.

"An important part of this process included WWF-Russia organizing, interdisciplinary expeditions, a project of ecological and economic justification of the reserve establishment was drafted. The negotiations with the local timber companies turned out to be the most difficult stage, as the territory of the future reserve was leased by seven regional companies. Under the difficult and long designation of borders, the area of the reserve decreased from 500 000 to 300 000 hectares, but we managed to find a compromise solution that will allow local companies in the area to continue operations, while preserving jobs for locals, and at the same time protecting the most ecologically valuable part of the intact forest from logging. The reserve establishment can be called a historical event. And for WWF-Russia, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, it is the best gift we could have asked for", said Andrey Shchegolev, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Director.

WWF-Russia is grateful to all the stakeholders for their active participation in the dialogue and search for a compromise that addresses environmental, social and economic aspects, and emphasizes that further cooperation of businesses, environmental organizations and authorities will be required to preserve the status of the reserve and the balance of the interests in the future. A significant contribution will be Dvinsky Forest Landscape Stewardship Initiative to be launched by WWF-Russia in 2020, which will take into account the landscape approach for the integrated development of the territories. This will draw on international support from the  Living European Rivers and the Bankable Water Solutions, a WWF initiative that aims to support and finance solutions for the world’s most biodiverse landscapes.

History of the reserve establishment:

The scientists from the Institute of Ecological Problems of the North of the Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences first highlighted  the ecological value of this territory in the early 2000s. From 2003 to 2009, WWF-Russia organized several expeditions to the Dvina-Pinega watershed. Scientists, forestry specialists, ecologists from Arkhangelsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg took part to study the area comprehensively. In 2008, the reserve was officially included into the Forest Plan of Arkhangelsk Region, and in 2011 it was included into the regional Territorial Planning Scheme.

In 2013, the project of the reserve establishment successfully passed and was approved by the State Ecological Expertise. The negotiations between the environmental organizations, e.g. WWF-Russia and Greenpeace, and regional timber companies to agree upon the borders of the reserve lasted for six years. Based on a balance of environmental, social and economic interests, the FSC voluntary forest certification was a powerful tool in finding a compromise. Finally, in April 2018, all the stakeholders reached a compromise which resulted in the signing of an agreement outlining the borders of the reserve.

«Fruitful dialogue between environmental organizations and companies on the creation of the Dvina-Pinega Reserve and the conservation of the unique northern taiga has become possible thanks to the FSC voluntary forest certification. As part of the implementation of the certification standard, timber companies must take into account the opinion of environmental organizations, scientists and conserve intact forest ecosystems. For us, the decision to create a reserve is also an important step on the way to agree on a mechanism for managing environmentally valuable natural resources within the framework of FSC certification throughout the country,” says Nikolay Shmatkov, Director of FSC Russia.

In 2018-2019, additional studies were carried out, and the updated ecological and economic justification passed the state ecological expertise and approval in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. On October 1, 2019, the government of Arkhangelsk Region adopted the reserve establishment resolution.


During this multi-year project, the work of WWF-Russia on the establishment of the Dvina-Pinega reserve was supported by a number of individual donors including Andrey Kartashov and corporate partners, such as IKEA under the global WWF-IKEA Partnership. IKEA has no forest leases in the area but support WWF-Russia’s work on forest conservation with the purpose to go far beyond their own supply chain need.

“IKEA is committed to promoting sustainable forest management beyond our supply chain. This is what we call becoming forest positive. Our partnership with WWF is a good example when our effort to make responsible forestry an industry norm goes way beyond our supply chain. An important effort of our work with WWF in Russia has been to support the development of a legal framework of how Intact Forest Landscapes can be managed and protected in a sustainable way considering economic, social and environmental interests. This has been reflected in the concept of “national heritage”. We are welcoming the decision of the government to create protected areas in the most environmentally valuable forests. This helps protect biodiversity and brings clarity to the companies working with forest management,” says Mikhail Tarasov, Global Forestry manager at IKEA.

 

Preview and headline photos: (c) Igor Shpilenok

For additional information please contact
Press Officer of Archangelsk Ecoregional Office
Head of Archangelsk Ecoregional Office