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3 700 hectares of forest in Irkutsk region was saved from illegal logging

10 july 2019
Independent WWF experts detected the violations in allocating of 3 700 hectares of forest for sanitary clear cutting

On the initiative of forest programme of WWF Russia the independent experts examined the acts of forest pathology examination officially uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Forestry of Irkutsk region for eight months. The experts checked 297 acts for the legality of sanitary clear cutting and discovered that 96 % of acts had violations.

WWF in partnership with the experts sent the official letter with the description of the violations to the Ministry of Forestry of Irkutsk region and the Department of Forestry of the Siberian Federal District. As a result of the violations’ detection 154 acts were dismissed and called back so 3 707 hectares of forests were saved from illegal logging. 

“Sanitary cutting is an official way to camouflage the illegal logging of forest, this scheme is very suitable for timber harvesting companies. This practically “illegal legal” logging is quite often implemented in Russia in general and in Irkutsk region in particular. The companies purchase the right to clear cut this type of forest at a low price but actually they cut healthy timber and sell it at a market price.\ receiving huge profit. It contradicts with the idea of sanitary cutting as this kind of harvesting is not for profit at all, it is for making the forest healthier”, says Anna Kirillova, the coordinator of WWF forest programme in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

Among the most often registered violations of the acts were the incorrect boundaries for sanitary cutting area, fake signatures, the wrong amount of timber allocated for cutting, the controversy between the act and its appendixes, the wrong list of tree species. The experts also found the documents that stated that the forest pathologists walked for 50 kilometres a day during tree counting. It cannot be trusted as the total tree counting takes much longer time and strength as the expert have to count almost each tree in the area. It means that the field counting in fact was not implemented and the data was fake. The detected violations regardless of the reason whether they were due to the incompetency of the experts or made intentionally could have led to cutting of the healthy timber. 

The field examination of the legality of sanitary clear cutting
(c) Alexander Kondratov
“No doubt sanitary cutting is needed if the forest has pests or dry forest due to forest fire abandon but the acts we examined had too large amount of timer allocated for cutting or a wrong type of cutting was chosen. The companies choose the most valuable timber to get the maximum profit however this forest can carry out their ecological functions”, says Anna Kirillova, the coordinator of WWF forest programme in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

WWF Russia already expressed concern about the big amount of violations during sanitary cutting in Irkutsk region. The violations were detected during documents’ examination and field inspections. The group of local experts examined 20 areas, eleven of them were examined before the sanitary logging and nine of them after the sanitary logging. All 20 areas had violations such as the contradictions of facts in the documents , the violation of fire prevention and sanitary regulations in forests. 

The field examination of the lagality of sanitary cutting.
(c) WWF / Alexander Kondratov
“Irkutsk region is one of the richest in forest regions of Russia, it has about 12 % of the amount of commercial timber in our country. However, the violations of sanitary logging regulations and illegal logging contradict the principle of sustainable forest and natural resources management. Russia does not only lose the timber but first of all irretrievably loses intact forest, the habitat of rare plants and animals. It is not the only problem. On July 1, amendments to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation will come into force, which will deprive forests along spawning water bodies of their protective status. Logging in the spawning river zones along with illegal logging in the region will have a negative impact on the whole ecosystem and weaken the protection from climate change, says Andrey Shegolev, the Director of Forest programme of WWF Russia.

WWF Russia reminds that the forest does not only keep rich biodiversity it has different functions such as keeps hydrological regime and balance, prevent draughts and soil erosion, river drying up, keeps the stable level of the subterranean waters.

WWF Russia experts claim that the precautions taken to prevent illegal timber harvesting and sustainable use of forest resources provided the intact forest and spawning river zones are protected help regulate climate changes which consequences Irkutsk region had recently.


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