WWF urges Russians to guard intact forests
On forest.wwf.ru website you can learn about the importance of the intact forests, their role in the overall ecosystem of the planet and in the life of rare species of animals, as well as you can start guarding the forest with WWF in one of the regions of the country.
Russia is one of the main forest countries in the world, with more than 45% of its area being forest. Therefore, it seems that those endless forests will never disappear. But in fact it's not like that. Most of the remaining forests in Russia have long been developed, and only a fifth of them (247 million hectares) remain in their primal form.
Scientists call such forests intact, as they have not been subject to a significant human impact yet. There are no roads, logging areas, or settlements, and the area of each forest site should be at least 50 thousand hectares. They are the last corners of the wild nature, where natural processes are not disturbed, and rare species of plants and animals are not being threatened yet. The intact forests are very important not only for the conservation of the Earth's biological diversity as they help regulate the climate and water regimes of the planet, protect the soil from degradation and help rivers remain affluent.
"An ordinary citizen often does not realize that a forest is not just a cluster of trees, that forests, like people, are different. Our task is to draw public attention to the most important category of forests – intact forests of high conservation value. These last oases of untouched nature are disappearing at a catastrophic rate. According to the WWF-Russia’s study, every year Russia loses more than 1.5 million hectares of the intact forests due to logging, anthropogenic fires, road construction, and mining, and by the beginning of the next century may lose them completely," says Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Director.
Intact Forests - the National Heritage of Russia
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Russia is one of the three world leaders in terms of speed and area of loss of the intact forests. In our country, they may disappear by the beginning of the XXII century. That does not mean that the forest itself will completely disappear in the country, but the human impact on the entire forest area will be so significant that the high ecological value of the last areas of wildlife will be irretrievably lost. The humanity will not be able to compensate such damage to the Earth.
At the same time, according to a recent WWF-Russia's survey, in the ranking of the main environmental problems of the country, the Russians assigned the last 6th place to the problem of deforestation. Meanwhile, attention to the forest is rated second among environmentally responsible actions taken by citizens to protect nature.
"This suggests that the forest is still perceived by citizens as a national heritage that they protect within their capabilities. However, quite often, such environmentally responsible behavior is limited to garbage collection after a picnic or hike, sensitive attitude to forest parks adjacent to cities and their inhabitants. And the intact forests and their problems remain out of the focus of attention of the Russians. These intact forests are thousands kilometers fr om home, wh ere the average urban dweller will never visit because of the remoteness and lack of infrastructure, remain in the mind as something distant, abstract, and eternal as we have a lot of forests. However, this is not the case. Therefore, we urge the Russians to guard the intact forests. You can start by learning more about these forests, better understand their importance and their problems," comments Nikolay Shmatkov.
WWF has been conserving intact forests in Russia for 25 years. During this time, thanks to the support of the individual donors and corporate partners, significant results have been achieved:
- about 1 million hectares of the intact forests have been excluded from logging thanks to voluntary moratoria agreements between WWF-Russia and FSC-certified forest companies certified, which are not only economically profitable, but also conduct environmentally and socially responsible forestry;
- in the spring of 2018 in Russia, finally, the legal mechanisms appeared for the creation of National Forest Heritage, but the heritage sites themselves have not yet appeared in the country. WWF-Russia and other environmental organizations in 2018 contributed to signing the first agreement of intent to create the first National Forest Heritage site, which may soon appear in Irkutsk Region;
- the unique information portal hcvf.ru dedicated to high conservation value forests, including the intact forests, was established by WWF-Russia and is actively being used by forest businesses, environmental organizations and activists for conservation and sustainable management of HCVs. In the Caucasus alone, this site has helped identify almost 60 cases of illegal logging.