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WWF DETECTED VIOLATIONS IN SANITATION LOGING PLANS IN IRKUTSK REGION

28 january 2020
More than 200 hectares of forest have been excluded from sanitation logging due to the WWF Forest Program

In December 2019, on the official website of the Ministry of Forestry of the Irkutsk Region, eleven reports of forest pathology research (FPR) were published. The documents contained information on the places, area and species of trees planned for selective and continuous sanitation logging, as well as logging of damaged trees. Such reports are drawn up by forest pathologists according to the results of a field survey of the territory. 

“Sanitation logging is an effective way to ‘improve’ forests and reduce the risk of fires. However, often under the guise of forest sanitation measures, healthy areas of forests are allocated for cutting. WWF’s mission is to track such violations and preserve valuable forest sites,” says Anna Kirillova, WWF Forest Program Coordinator in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.
The area allocated by report ЛАО No. 62-20-10/19 of 12/04/2019 is 23.5 hectares against 25 hectares specified in the report.
(c) WWF

In December, at the initiative of the WWF Forest Program, independent experts examined the FPR reports in the Irkutsk Region for the feasibility of sanitation logging. The examination results revealed that 100% of the reports contained violations. In accordance with the reports, about 50,050.05 m3 of valuable wood such as pine, larch, birch and spruce could be cut down illegally.

“Employees of the WWF Russia Forest Program sent an official letter with a list of violations to the Department of Forestry of the Siberian Federal District, which issued orders to cancel all eleven reports. The documents were removed from the website of the Ministry of Forestry of the Irkutsk Region. Thus, 222.4 hectares of forest were excluded from felling,” says Anna Kirillova, WWF Forest Program Coordinator in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

The FPR reports contained inaccurate information about the area and boundaries (outlines) of the forest territory designated for logging, site coordinates, etc. If logging was carried out in accordance with the documents with similar violations, healthy trees could be cut down, and undamaged or valuable forest areas could be felled. 

Partially burnt forest. Such forest is suitable for sanitation felling.
(c) WWF / Anna Kirillova
“WWF experts who examined the reports recognized that, in general, the quality of preparation of FPR reports in December 2019 was significantly higher than in the same period in 2018. Nevertheless, all the revealed errors and remarks in the documents indicate a lack of required qualification and experience of the forest pathologists who work on the preparation of reports, and the low quality of training,” says Anna Kirillova, WWF Forest Program Coordinator in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

This is the second stage of work on monitoring the feasibility of sanitation logging in the Irkutsk Region. The first such examination was initiated by WWF in November 2018 and lasted until June 2019. In eight months, 52% of the 297 FPR reports were canceled, which helped to save 3,707 hectares of forest from illegal logging.

Non-governmental organizations and citizens have been able to check official documents since 2016, when the Government of the Russian Federation signed Decree No. 1158 “On approval of the Regulation on monitoring the reliability of information on the sanitary and forest-pathological condition of forests and the validity of measures provided for by reports of forest pathology research by authorized state government bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation exercising the powers of the Russian Federation transferred to them in the field of forestry affairs.”

WWF will continue to monitor sanitation felling and hopes for understanding and support from government agencies and other interested parties.

Image at the top by Alexey Gribkov

For additional information please contact
Altai-Sayan ecoregional press-officer