Improving the Control and Monitoring of Forest Products Trade
From October 5-7, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Russia, WWF Russia hosted a roundtable to discuss the control and monitoring of forest products trade from Russia that drew upon Russian and international experiences of systems in development to ensure timber legality. The roundtable presentations were devoted to a review of Russian and international legislation designed to combat illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber products, and gave participants an opportunity to learn about new initiatives and systems designed to confirm the legal origin as wood, as well as discuss the problems associated with developing and implementing Russia’s recently passed law to control roundwood trade, Law No. 415-FZ, and the associated online platform system on the Unified State Automated Information System (USAIS), named “Timber Accounting and Associated Transactions” (http://www.lesegais.ru/).
The roundtable was attended by representatives of WWF Russia (Moscow, Krasnodar, Kavkaz, and Far East offices), WWF International, WWF US, WWF Bolivia, the Bolivian Government’s Forest Management Authority, forest authorities from Russia’s North West region, experts in the forest sector, law enforcement, as well as representatives from some of the largest companies operating in the Russian forest sector (IlimGroup, JSC Mondi Syktyvkar Timber Complex, JSC International Paper, Stora Enso, as well as others), and other specialists and stakeholders.
Roundtable participants discussed problems associated with trying to control and monitor illegal logging in Russia, in addition to learning about initiatives in Bolivia on tracking the legal origin of timber, as well as the detailed overviews of how international policies and initiatives are complementary to Russia’s domestic regulations to combat illegal logging (CITES, Lacey Act Amendment of 2008 (USA), EU Regulation 995/2010, and Russia’s domestic law № 415-FZ, et al.). WWF Russia’s Alexander Voropaev presented on a recently completedsurvey conducted by WWF on forest sector impressions on the implementation on Federal Law № 415-FZ and the current effectiveness of the USAIS Timber Accounting online platform.
Canonsultant to WWF US, John Simeone presented on the high-profile prosecution of the US company Lumber Liquidators for violating the Lacey Act, which involved US imports of flooring from China that were made from illegally harvested Russian oak. John Simeone noted that “Russia has taken a large step forward and deserves much credit for passing a law - Federal Law № 415-FZ -that has the potential to regulate Russia's trade of roundwood logs and limit the export of illegally harvested timber. Russian wood is a critical component of forest products purchased by consumers throughout the world - whether it is softwood used for paper and fiberboard within furniture or high-value hardwoods like oak and ash used for beautiful hardwood floors. There is global interest in helping Russia implement and strengthen this law such that it is effective and encourages the Russian forest sector to flourish without the worry of illegal timber entering the market.”
Roundtable participants also had the opportunity to learn about how other forest-rich countries are developing initiatives to control and track timber trade. Additionally, participants had the opportunity to learn about how Russian companies currently are developing and implementing their own internal mechanisms to track timber from harvest through various processing stages. Representatives from Ikea, Stora Enso, and Mondi Sykyvkarpresented on how each company monitors the legality of wood through the supply chain and how each company’s methods differ from one another and which complement FSC certification procedures.
Nikolay Shmatkov, Director of WWF-Russia’s Forest Program, observed that WWF Russia considers the problem of illegal logging one of the most acute in modern forestry and isinterested in the presence of effective mechanisms to identify illegal logging and as well as supporting well-designed laws and their effective implemention. Federal Law № 415-FZ has the potential to be an effective mechanism and the development of the USAIS Timber Accounting system shows much promise. However, one current shortcoming is the lack of analytical toolsembedded within the system, which could allow users tocompare the volume of timber allowed for harvest from the leaseholder connected to each purchase with the volume of wood that is currently in circulation by all downstream users of that wood.
Nikolay Shmatkov noted that «this roundtable was organized as part of WWF Russia’s works on assessing the effectiveness of Federal Law № 415-FZ and the USAIS Timber Accounting system and to help facilitate opportunities for its improvement –and all recommendations and outcomes that have come out of the great discussions held during this roundtable will be communicated to ROSLESHOZ, the Federal Forestry Agency, as well as to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of Russia.»