Intact Forests Between Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers Should Become the National Forest Heritage Sites
According to ecologists, the best decision is to create there a protected area not less than 350 000 ha in area. In accordance with the current Forest Plan of Arkhangelsk region, Verkhneyulovsky reserve (489 000 ha) is going to be arranged there.
However, bureaucratic hurdles slow the process and hope for the reserve’s creation on the declared area bathed day by day. Thus, WWF-Russia together with Greenpeace state that the best alternative decision is to create there a National Forest Heritage Site, the premier one for Russia. This calls for immediate regulatory change that allows to assign to the territory of 350 000 – 380 000 ha the status of a Specially Protected Forest Area. It could be a more realistic option than the creation of Verkhneyulovsky reserve as it won’t require any budget funds.
The creation of the National Forest Heritage Site allows to save the most part of the intact forest area. Unfortunately, for now the dialogue between environmental organizations and federal and regional government has been ineffective. It’s important to avoid the formal designation and situation when protective status will be assigned only to water conservations zones that are already protected from harvesting by the existing laws. Conservation of the most undisturbed parts of the intact forests, local biodiversity and social values is the high priority for today. The delays in decision-making process place their existence under threat. The forests in the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega are exhausted and timber companies could start harvesting even in intact parts of them to support the local timber industry.
“Our goal is to create the protected area and to support local timber companies at the same time. It’s important to understand that only efficient and environmentally responsible forest management that includes reforestation and thinning could assure the local employment and sustainable forestry,” stated Andrey Shegolev, the Head of Forest Program of WWF-Russia Barents Branch. – “Transition to the efficient and sustainable forestry is in the interests of the whole region and locals as their incomes depend on the long-term operational stability of timber companies. Current methods of forestry allow them to run business for 15 years only.”
Ecologists say that 350 000 – 380 000 ha constitute only 1,5% of total forest area in Arkhangelsk region, 8% of the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega and 30–33% of the original intact forests. This area size is sufficient to save and conserve the most valuable part of boreal intact forests. Even those small actions on the way towards National Forest Heritage Site designation couldn’t be done without effective support of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and the Governor of Arkhangelsk region.
Headline photo: Intact forests in the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega, Arkhangelsk region / © Yury Shiryaevsky, WWF-Russia