WWF and ULK Group will conserve valuable forests along spawning rivers of Arkhangelsk Region
Due to the new agreement, the total area of the forest sites under strict protection is 26,707 ha, including 23,234 ha of spawning forest zones. That part of the valuable forests along the Volyuga, Veryuga and Padoma rivers with a total area of about 12 000-15 000 ha was transferred by Federal Forestry Agency Order No. 1497 fr om protective to industrial forests, wh ere clearcuts are allowed.
Due to its voluntary commitments, the company will not carry out any clearcuts in the spawning forest zones, and completely abandons any logging in the most valuable areas of the forests along the spawning rivers. This will help conserve populations of valuable fish species and the forests that protect them in Ustyansky district.
"We welcome the environmentally responsible attitude of ULK Group to the forest and the desire to conserve the valuable forests that they lease along the rivers. However, the responsible behavior of a particular logging company cannot solve the current "system error" in the legislation, which can lead to the same situation for 50 million ha of valuable forests and many forest companies throughout Russia. We hope for the same prompt response from the authorities and their immediate actions to protect spawning forest zones throughout the country in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation," says Andrey Shchegolev, WWF-Russia Forest Program Director.
WWF-Russia draws attention to the fact that the threat of clearcuts in spawning forest zones in Arkhangelsk Region is the result of the Federal Forestry Agency Order No. 1497, which contradicts the requirement of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, and not the result of actions of a specific company. In 2019, in response to an appeal from the WWF, Greenpeace Russia, and 163,098 citizens to President Vladimir Putin to protect valuable forests along rivers, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation sent a request to the Federal Forestry Agency to preserve the borders and areas of existing spawning forest zones. In the Federal Forestry Agency Order No. 1497, this requirement was ignored.
Environmentalists are still concerned that similar orders may appear in other regions of the country, and now, due to the amendments to the Forest Code that came into force on July 1, 2019, 50 million hectares of valuable forests along spawning rivers across Russia may be under threat of clearcuts. Moreover, in Arkhangelsk Region, it was a responsible logging company, not the authorities, who first took the initiative and helped to quickly and effectively resolve the current local situation with the loss of the protective status of spawning forest zones.
If such a situation is repeated in another region, the environmental organizations cannot guarantee that local logging company will show the same responsibility. In this regard, WWF-Russia and Greenpeace Russia have previously asked the Ministry of Natural Resources of and Environment of the Russian Federation to take the situation with the uncertain status of spawning forest zones under control, but the Ministry has not yet responded to the request of environmental organizations.
WWF-Russia urges to prevent the loss of valuable forests, and their loss across the country can amount to millions of hectares and at the same time can be hidden behind complicated wording explaining the replacement of some protective categories with others. WWF-Russia will continue to fight for the conservation of valuable forests along spawning rivers. WWF-Russia hopes that the demand of the Ministry (letter of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation to the Federal Forestry Agency No. 03-16-44/16025 of 10.07.2019) to keep the original boundaries and area of spawning forest zones will be observed by all institutions in all regions of the country.
Read more about the position of WWF-Russia and Greenpeace on spawning forest zones and their importance for the conservation of valuable fish species here.
Preview and headline photos: (c) WWF-Russia.