576 thousand Korean pine seedlings were planted on the Land of Leopard in the International Year of Forests!
The campaign, organized by the Amur branch of WWF Russia in partnership with Citibank has become the largest action on forest restoration in the habitat of the rarest cat of the planet – the Far Eastern leopard. The idea to plant 1 000 000 Korean pines on the Land of Leopard has brought together 820 volunteers of different ages and professions. Since 30th April, the volunteers from the big cities of Primorye – Vladivostok, Ussuriisk as well as the citizens of Khasanskii district were coming to planting sites, and in the field outfit and rubber boots were going to the forest with the sacks filled with Korean pine seedlings. The Institute of Forestry of Primorskaya State Agricultural Academy became one of the main partners of WWF in the campaign. The planting was organized every day, in the heavy rain and under boiling sun. Planting under the canopy was not easy. It was hard to climb the hills, curving tangled lianas and fallen trees. But everyone knew that under the heads of tall trees the young pines will feel safe and protected from sun rays and frost.
“As it goes in the Russian saying, one should do three things in life: to give a birth to a son, to plant a tree and to built a house. I already have a son, and now I’m planting Korean pines, - comments one of the volunteers Valery Ostrovsky, a sailor, who came to the plantations with his wife Albina. “Leopard is a fantastically beautiful animal and he needs a decent home – his forest”, - thinks Elena Zryanina, a worker of the State University. “The region is becoming better with our contribution. Realizing that you are the part of it makes you feel happy, – says Natalia Volvach from the administration of Khasanskii district. Having experienced the planting of Korean pine at least once, a person would never set a fire without thinking, but recalls the moments of hard work and will take care about the forest, - says the journalist Sergey Sablin.
Planting was organized in Khasanskii and Ussuriiskii districts of Primorye on five degraded oak stand areas specially selected by WWF experts, where natural restoration of Korean pine in nearest future is impossible, unfortunately. As a result, 208 hectares of Korean pine plantations appeared in Khabarikha river basin and 22 ha – in the Gryaznaya river. Here, by the way, on 15 May, for the first time in Russia the Day of Korean Pine was celebrated. Both areas are located within the nature conservation lease, where the tending operations will be held as a part of WWF project. Plantations covered 102 ha in Verkhniye Brusya river basin within the federal refuge “Leopardovy”. 18 ha - on the territory of “Borisovskoye” hunting estate, in Ussuriisky military forestry, and 4 ha – in Barabashevskoye military forestry. All together, 576 thousand Korean pines were planted by volunteers under the canopy on the area of 354 hectares!
“Never before in the south-west Primorye there was such amount of Korean pines on such an area planted per one year. This is really a considerable contribution into the forest restoration on the Land of Leopard, which is the main goal of WWF, - resumes Denis Smirnov, the head of Forest program of WWF Russia Amur branch. We succeeded to attract hundreds of people to this action, who heartily wish to make a difference and make it with their own hands. Next year we still have to finish plantations of 1 000 000 Korean pines, and I hope to meet with many of our volunteers in the forest next spring!”
It’s an interesting fact, that the unique instrument was used during planting. It was invented and designed by Georgy Likhachev, the coordinator of WWF Russia Amur branch projects on leopard habitat restoration, and it showed great results. Thanks to some of volunteers this iron instrument was named “Likhachev’s pike”.
Therefore, more than a half of 1 000 000 Korean pines were already planted in the south-west Primorye. It means, that in spring 2012, WWF will appeal to caring people to join the planting again in order to finish the campaign “Plant a forest for leopard”.