FEDERAL FORESTRY AGENCY INSPECTED LAGALITY OF LOGGING IN THE KARACHAY-CHERKESSIA ON WWF REQUEST
Earlier, WWF-Russia, fighting against illegal logging, examined the legality of salvage logging in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. Compliance review of sanitary and recovery measures (SRM) at the Arkhyz District Forestry highlighted numerous violations of the forestry legislation.
Detailed findings were filed to Rosleskhoz which responded with ordering the Department of Forestry in the Southern Federal District to carry out unscheduled inspection.
Before that, in April, the Department had banned clearcut salvage logging of 2.5 ha of forest in the Republic of Karachay-Cherkess after WWF's appeal.
"Unluckily, we have to admit that salvage logging remains a "legal" loophole making it possible to harvest protection forests and forests in the protected areas as if commercial logging sites, thus being a considerable source of illegal wood on a national scale," — says Nikolay Shmatkov, Forest Program Director WWF-Russia.
The following violations were confirmed by the Department during the unscheduled inspection in September this year:
• delayed cleaning of the logging sites;
• snags left standing in the cut areas;
• timber skidding on steep slopes exceeding 20 degrees without cable skidders;
• damage to the young trees;
• lack of control of compliance with conditions of the forest sale and purchase contracts;• no follow-up forest pathology examination if a site's forest sanitary status is updated resulting in larger content of trees to be cut down.
As a result, inter-district environmental prosecutor's office initiated administrative investigation of violations of the forest fire safety and sanitary regulations. The investigation led to fining the director of the Karachay-Cherkess State Autonomous Institution "Urupsky Leskhoz» and prosecution of the foreman and deputy director of operations of the Arkhyz Forestry.
Based on the inspection findings, the Department ordered the Forestry Administration of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic to clean the cut areas and banned logging in three sites of the Arkhyz Forestry from the list supplied by WWF-Russia. However, the Department made no comments regarding information and photographs submitted by the Fund which showed felling of healthy trees in one of the sites.
It should be noted that despite acknowledgment of many violations revealed by WWF-Russia, the Department's detailed reply leaves out any inspection results concerning the main type of violations, viz., possible designation of healthy trees for felling instead of cutting down diseased, weakened, or damaged ones.
"Indeed, the Department says nothing about the two kilometer long logging road cut with heavy machinery, in some places to the depth of up to 6 meters, which triggers erosion mechanism. The road crosses recreational hiking trail "Arkhyz the Amazing and Unique" in several places, undermining image of the Republic in the eyes of tourists coming to the Arkhyz Nature Reserve", — explains Elena Cherkasova, Forest Project Coordinator at the Northern Caucasus Office of WWF-Russia.
Headline photo: (c) WWF-Russia