RUSSIAN FOREST INDUSTRY IS NOT READY TO ACCEPT CLIMATE CHALLENGE
Climate change is one of the main challenges of our time. It is the adaptation strategy that will determine the degree of impact of climate change on Russian forests and development of the country's forest industry in the future. Opportunities and barriers to adaptation to climate change in the Russian forest sector were discussed by experts in Moscow at the round table "Russian Forest sector: adaptation to climate change", organized by the WWF-Russia on 19th of March. In addition to the representatives of the scientific community, some experts from forest industry research institutes and timber companies, as well as media representatives took part in the discussion.
Much attention is paid to the issues of adaptation to climate change in the Russian Federation, as well as throughout the world. The Paris climate agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015 by the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change, entered into force in 2016.
"In light of the development of National plan for adaptation to adverse climate change, not only assessments and forecasts of the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems are of great relevance, but also the planning of specific adaptation measures and pilot projects in the forest sector. Unfortunately, in the Russian National plan, unlike in all the others, very little attention is paid to adaptation of the forest sector as this section of the plan is not actually fully developed, which will have a negative impact on the entire industry in the near future," says Alexey Kokorin, Director of WWF-Russia ‘s Climate and Energy Program.
Experts noted not only the lack of readiness of the country's forest sector to the existing climate challenges, the lack of a detailed "road map" both at the federal and regional levels, but also the difficulties in financing adaptation initiatives, which, due to their significant costs, cannot be implemented without the relevant federal orders. At the same time, there is a wealth of experience in implementing specific adaptation measures not only in the leading forest countries, such as Canada, the USA, Sweden and Finland, but also in a number of timber companies operating in Russia. However, to successfully adapt the industry to climate change within the country, private forest business initiatives need to be supported by decisions and projects initiated by forest authorities.
"Unfortunately, the authorities were not able to take part in the discussion of such an important issue for the future of all forest ecosystems in Russia and the domestic sector of the economy. The workshop can be ignored, but the impact of climate change on forests cannot. More and more frequent outbreaks of pests and pathogens, forest fires, which last year damaged 10 million hectares of forests in our country, windfalls cannot be ignored. All these are the consequences of climate change, the scenarios of which are already the practical basis for decision-making in forestry in many countries. It is especially important to take into account the impact of climate change in the implementation of the national project "Ecology" in terms of reforestation. Now it is not taken into account in the selection of species to be used for reforestation," says Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Director.
WWF-Russia believes that the problems of climate change and specific adaptation measures for the country's forest sector require broad coverage and discussion with the participation of all stakeholders, including the active participation of the scientific community and authorities. The participants of the round table concluded that it is necessary to draw up detailed recommendations from scientific and environmental organizations to fill in and implement the section of Forest Plans of the subjects of the Federation on the adaptation, which was added to the standard form in 2018. Now the content of these sections is quite formal.
WWF-Russia calls on the stakeholders to take an active part in the development of the adaptation measures at the federal and regional levels, including paying special attention to the necessary financing of relevant initiatives aimed at minimizing the negative consequences of climate change for the forests of Russia and for the forest sector of the economy.
Preview and headline photos: (c) Andrey Scchegolev / WWF-Russia